New York City ballerina Carrie Lee Riggins didn’t need to be asked twice when the man she’s only been on two dates with suggested she move in with him amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 39-year-old “sat on it for a little bit,” she tells Marie Claire, but resolved to take the plunge, heading 133 miles northeast to his pad in Mystic, Connecticut, with her Bengal cat and two weeks’ worth of clothing.
“I decided it was time to get out of town for a while,” she dishes to the mag. “So far, it’s been going great.”
She refers to her host and new boyfriend only as “Mike” in the magazine, but reveals they have separate bedrooms and bathrooms — his upstairs, hers downstairs. Yet, “there’s still the romance.”
“I do my lady things and he does his manly things, and then we meet up,” Carrie says, somewhat cryptically.
The couple’s unusual love story began in mid-February when they met on the dating app Bumble.
Their first date was supposed to happen in Manhattan on Feb. 23, but it got canceled because Mike had to be in Arizona instead. A true gentleman, he sent flowers to apologize.
They first set eyes on each other in real life on March 7, when they shared lunch before strolling around the city. The date went so well, they wound up having dinner at the upscale eatery Eleven Madison Park.
Carrie told Mike a lot about herself: She grew up in upstate New York, performed at Lincoln Center when she was just 9 and danced with the New York City Ballet at the age of 16.
Her other claims to fame included appearing in the 2010 Natalie Portman movie “Black Swan,” and on the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” because of her woeful abilities in the kitchen.
She says she was tired of repeating her story to potential suitors, “but I really liked Mike. He talked to me, and he listened, and he treated me super well. He’s very chill.”
A few days later, Carrie visited his condo in Mystic and was amazed to discover that one of her closest friends lived in a unit two doors down from him.
But, almost as soon as she arrived back in Manhattan that night, she realized the COVID-19 clouds were gathering.
The daughter of a dentist, who’d been raised to avoid germs by using paper towels to open doors and not touch gas pumps, she “got more and more freaked out.”
“It really hit me that day just how unsafe the city was becoming,” adds Carrie.
She confided her fears to Mike during a phone call, and that’s when he invited his new girlfriend to move in with him. Carrie arrived at his place with her cat, Jack, on March 12. It was just five days after their first date.
Since then, things have been going smoothly. When she first got to Mystic, Mike was still going into his office so Carrie could do her ballet and yoga in the living area without interruption. He works remotely now, so she does her workouts downstairs to respect his privacy.
Meanwhile, he has set her up on his Peloton bike so the self-described active “cocker spaniel” can burn off energy.
“We’re not in each other’s hair constantly,” says Carrie, adding that although she can’t cook she can create “amazing” salads, and Mike prepared salmon last week.
She does the dishes and cleaning, but they are still “courting each other and not just falling into traditional expectations.”
As for the future, both Carrie and Mike are playing things by ear. She has never been married but was once engaged for eight years. “I don’t want to make that mistake again of staying in the wrong situation for so long,” she tells Marie Claire writer Abby Ellin.
If the quarantine goes on for months and the affair doesn’t work out in the long-term, the dancer has multiple contingency plans. She can easily return to the city by car or could stay with her friend living in the same complex.
In fact, she drove back to her Manhattan apartment a few days ago to collect more of her stuff, including her sewing machine. The reason? She enjoys designing and making her own leotards.
“When Mike saw my sewing machine, he was like: ‘Are you going to start making your own clothes?’” she recalls. “Like we’re back to the 1900s. It was hilarious. But that’s sort of how it feels.”
Ever the romantic, Mike went to the grocery store the other day to bring back supplies but apologized that he hadn’t been able to buy Carrie flowers.
“That’s ok, you got me toilet paper,” she quipped. She acknowledges that “priorities are different in times like this.”