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One Year Later: Bozeman Couple Reflect On Joys, Challenges Through Pandemic

Jesse DeVoe and Rachel Goldblatt, courtesy

A year ago, weeks into Montana’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, Yellowstone Public Radio interviewed a couple in Bozeman over Zoom about the uncertainty, unexpected joys and challenges of living through a pandemic. Reporter Rachel Cramer recently touched base with them to see what has changed in the last year and what they’re looking forward to after getting vaccinated.

Last spring, Jesse DeVoe’s housemate tested positive for COVID-19. He packed a duffle bag and moved in with his girlfriend Robyn Goldblatt so they could self-quarantine for two weeks together.

Listen: Bozeman Couple Share Their Self-Quarantine Experience

DeVoe says they’ve had some big changes since our interview last year.

So first is, we got engaged. So that happened in late summer, last year, and then the next big change was we moved in together,” DeVoe says.

During the early stage of the pandemic, DeVoe’s full time job moved online, but Goldblatt, who works in the travel industry, saw a decline in work.

"That's been kind of rough, as you can imagine over the past year,” Goldblatt explains. “We've gotten creative over that time. We started up this webinars series, and then that ultimately morphed into a podcast. So it's called the "Wisdom and Wanderlust" podcast, and we talk about how to travel better and live better. So that's something I never expected to come out of my life."

With more people looking to travel this spring and summer, Goldblatt says work has started to pick back up again and she’s no longer receiving unemployment benefits.

They say one of the unexpected upsides to the pandemic is that it forced them to slow down. Goldblatt says she had time to try new things and lean into her creative side.

I started delivering senior groceries through the food bank and learned how to play chess. I did some like painting and watercolor stuff,” Goldblatt said. She also learned how to play guitar.

Goldblatt and DeVoe say the last year made them feel especially grateful to live in a place with so many outdoor opportunities. Over the summer, they explored the Gallatin Range south of Bozeman. During the winter months, they hit the ski slopes.

But, like so many people, Goldblatt and DeVoe say it has been really hard not seeing their family who live in Idaho and Washington.

"Everything just makes you think more about your family because we were both very worried about our parents and now they're all vaccinated and that makes us feel really good,” DeVoe says.

I mean, we missed the holidays with them and so it's been a long time. So we're really looking forward to getting together with our families again, for sure,” Goldblatt says.

DeVoe says they have plans to see their parents in the coming weeks and months.

Now that we're both vaccinated as of today,” DeVoe says.

"Well, partially. First shot," Goldblatt adds.

"Yeah, still a ways to go, I guess," DeVoe says.

I was feeling excitement and just appreciation for those that have been working on these vaccines, and it's just a sense of relief and looking forward to the year ahead," Goldblatt says. "Just knowing that we'll be safe, and we'll be okay, and our family members, they're going to be okay. So just feeling really lucky and appreciative.”

"There's just so much less uncertainty now,” DeVoe says. “I remembered, early on, just so much uncertainty about everything, and like we were bringing her groceries home and wiping them all down and disinfecting, and it was scary going to the grocery store. And like, so many things we didn't understand about the virus then, and now looking forward to it winding up, to a certain extent as much as it could be.”

With warmer spring nights and more friends vaccinated, DeVoe and Goldblatt recently decided to host a small gathering in their backyard where people could space out. They say they’re looking forward to more moments like these: Moments they may have taken for granted more than a year ago.