We put that question to readers and received more than 800 responses. Here are some of the highlights.
Though public health officials have cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, the rollout of vaccines around the world signals the start of a hopeful chapter after nearly a year of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing. Now that imagining an “after time,” seems possible, At Home readers were asked to share their “firsts” — the first things they plan to do when the world returns to normal. A total of 803 readers responded, with plans for hugs, family visits and dream trips that have been delayed.
Here, a few of their ideas, edited and condensed for clarity.
Hugs, kisses and handshakes
“Hug my grandmother real tight. I visited her once, but I just waved at her outside her room and then she responded by asking who I was. I lowered my mask to show her my face, and she asked me to come closer. I said I couldn’t.”
Mika Amador, Manila, Philippines
“I am a pediatric nurse, and what I miss most is my patients and their parents being able to see me smile.”
Mary McNulty, New York
“Oh, to be able to shake hands again. We have lost the simple way we show respect for one another, to say thank you, to signal agreement. Our elbows will never be up to the job.”
Audrey Jessen, Gulfport, Fla.
“Despite being 33 years old and my brother being 45, I cannot wait to give him a hug. He is a surgeon, and not only does he see Covid-19 patients, he operates on them. Because of that, he has been self-isolating in a room above his garage since March.”
Fay Olga Pappas, Winter Park, Fla.
“As a 50-year-old single mother, I am looking forward to an in-person first date, and maybe even a good-night kiss.”
Keryn Marie, Alameda, Calif.
“I’m excited to watch my first cohort of freshman students walk across the stage at their high school graduation and tell them in person, four years later, how incredibly proud I am to have been their teacher and now their friend.”
Taylor Lifka, Roma, Texas
“I miss sitting in a classroom full of students. I miss the background noise, the jokes, the laughter. I miss taking notes from the teacher’s whiteboard. I miss hearing the staff’s heels click down the hall. I miss walking past the janitor and saying ‘Hello.’”
Sabrina Johnson, Michigan
“Sharing physical space with my colleagues, who I rely on deeply in my work as a public defender for fortitude, camaraderie and guidance. I miss the small and large moments of our office and courtroom culture that energize me to be the best advocate I can be.”
Mary Gibbons, Brooklyn
“The live bingo games I host in our clubhouse where our residents come to enjoy, maybe to win a few dollars, but most of all, I suspect, to have the doughnuts we serve at the break.”
Donny Shusterman, Boynton Beach, Fla.
“Every year I host a small Christmas party for my friends. Regardless what time of year it is when we’re done with social distancing, I’m going to throw one. We order Chinese food, drink, play games and then sometimes people crash at my place so we can get brunch to nurse our hangovers.”
Melissa Croce, Brooklyn
Seeing family …
“Seeing my daughter Nina who is in a residential care center and hasn’t been able to have visitors for much of the pandemic. That has been really hard on both of us.”
Carole Kerper, Palmyra, Pa.
“I want to go to my home country, Peru, to see my mom, and my dad’s ashes. He died in November, and I couldn’t give him a hug goodbye for fear of traveling there during the pandemic.”
Karina Bekemeier, San Francisco, Calif.
… and getting away from them
“I’m hiring a babysitter and going out dancing.”
Amanda Vaught, Brooklyn
“Going out with friends and being able to have a dinner date with my wife, inside a restaurant, away from our child.”
Jason March, Shoreline, Wash.
Getting out of the house
“I have an autoimmune disease that has drastically curtailed my daily travels. I am looking forward to a normal trip to the grocery store!”
Kelley L., Texas
“Paying too much for someone else to make my cocktail.”
Megan Lechner, St. Louis
“I had a baby this past summer, and I can’t wait to take him to the grocery store, out to lunch or to visit out-of-state relatives. There is a whole world out there that he’s barely seen, and I can’t wait to show it to him.”
Amelia Alexander, Durham, N.C.
“I want to go back to my local library in New York City, browse the new books without feeling rushed and check out a big pile of books without worrying about germs.”
Alice Alderman, New York
“Salsa dancing again! I miss the closeness and sweatiness of dancing with smiling strangers at my favorite club. It’s going to feel fantastic to be spun and dipped post-pandemic!”
Poonam Dubal, Dallas
Being a face in the crowd
“Being part of a big, anonymous crowd. I miss that feeling of collectivity, of being an ant in the colony. I’m excited for when I can join a packed spinning class, dance among strangers at a party or even just sit silently shoulder-to-shoulder on an airplane.”
Meg D., Seattle
“I’m ready to wander out of a late-night concert after dancing on strangers’ toes in search of the nearest greasy food truck that offers fries and sauces so I can double dip with friends.”
Megan Peters, Helena, Mont.
“I love to swim at my local Y.M.C.A. Getting into the pool always felt like utter bliss, and I would wonder, “Why don’t I do this everyday?” I dream about gliding, swirling, splashing and plunging in the water again.”
Sharene Voelkel, San Jose, Calif.
“I cannot wait to go to the movie theater. The movie itself? Irrelevant. I want to arrive early and buy an ungodly amount of popcorn. I can just see it now, getting excited while watching the trailers. Hearing strangers in the audience chuckle, gasp or cry. The camaraderie of strangers in the dark.”
Emma Bausch, Chicago
“Taking my kids to an indoor play area! McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Chuck E. Cheese. Keeping three kids happy inside a house for the whole summer was so hard.”
Lily Rotering, Fort Worth
“Taking public transit. I miss the convenience of not having to worry about parking. I can’t wait to hear the Red Line El train conductor who always tells people ‘May the Force be with you’ after they exit the train. I miss waiting at bus stops with friends or people-watching in a subway car. There’s something about taking public transit that makes me feel like I am a part of the city.”
Rebecca Silverman, Chicago
Traveling the world
“I am 85 years old. When the pandemic began, I was 84, and when it ends I will probably be 86. Two years at the end of one’s life are rather valuable. What I’d like to do is fly to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail; drive to Maine and find a lobster shack; and visit Egypt to sail down the Nile.”
Jo Procter, Chevy Chase, Md.
“I’m most looking forward to taking my son to Disneyland. I’ve been saving up for almost 10 years, since he was a baby, and we were supposed to go this summer.”
Courtney Keeler, Denver
And never again
“No more Zoom dates.”
Alexander Hartson, Washington, D.C.