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'I Saw Her In November...' Newlyweds Face Pandemic An Ocean Apart

For some people, life during the pandemic has meant hunkering down with family members and, if you're fortunate, working from home. But when you happen to be a newlywed separated from your wife by an entire ocean and a professional athlete whose career in Europe is uncertain, priorities have a way of coming into focus.

Ed note: post has been edited for length and clarity.

"My name is Troy Barnies. I'm from Auburn, Maine, and I went to Edward Little High School. Then I graduated high school, went to University of Maine and then, after that, I got an agent and became a professional basketball player. And for the last nine years, I've been playing overseas in Europe.

"You know when people say, 'when you know, you know,' like, we knew."

"When I played in Hungary, I was living there and I met a girl, a Norwegian, and she was there for medical school. She's one of those people that has that strange, unique brain and memory that remembers everything. You know, when people say, 'when you know, you know,' — like, we knew. We just knew. We got married at the end of July in 2019, and, so we're basically newlyweds, and we spent the rest of that summer together, and then she had to go back to Norway in August for school. I was gonna follow up behind her, but then I got my contract. I saw her in November and then, now, I haven't seen her since in person.

"I was with this Russian team from January till March. And because of the pandemic, our season was suspended. Things were starting to get out of control in Europe, and all Americans were basically starting to go home. So I signed a termination contract. I basically only got paid two or three months working with the Russian team. Sandra was in Norway, when the pandemic hit and I was in Russia. Russia closed down borders to all countries, from exit and entry. And Norway did the same. Norway, was like 'if you don't have a green card, and you're not a citizen, I don't care who you are, you can't come in, and you can't leave.' So I couldn't get to Norway. And she couldn't leave to come to me. So my only choice was to go to America, and I got on one of the only flights that was available at the time to go to New York to fly back home at least.

"With everything going on — you can't find an apartment right now. I'm living out of the bags, basically, that I've been traveling the world with, and I'm sleeping on a couch in my own hometown. Now I have to basically budget my own money that I've been saving up, and I can't get a job anywhere now.

Credit via Troy Barnies
via Troy Barnies

"The first thing I'm worried about right now is the next time I'll be able to see Sandra. I'm waiting, like I said, for the dust to settle both of us are. So we FaceTime every single day, and we text all day together.

"I'm really curious about how everything is going to end up with a pandemic going on, especially in professional sports, and how these leagues around the world not just basketball, but even the spring sports are gonna finish or continue maybe next season. I'm just really curious of how everything is gonna end up."

Barnies' story was produced by Susan Sharon. If you or someone you know has something to share about life during the pandemic, write to Maine Public at TellMeMore@mainepublic.org and let us know the best way to reach you.

Originally published 5:13 p.m. April 24, 2020