Covid Seclusion: What We Missed and Will Miss

Michele: I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors, As we return to a world more “normal” than the isolated existence we endured during the pandemic, what do you most look forward to AND is there any part of being quarantined you will miss?  Their answers were as varied and interesting as they are.

Keenan:  Great question. I most look forward to eating in restaurants.
I will not miss having to change out of my jammies to go to said restaurant.

Connie:  What I have missed more than anything is TRAVEL. During the year-plus of
lockdown, we had to cancel two separate trips to England, and I (like other
writers) have cancelled plans to attend writers’ conferences and
conventions. Right now we’re waiting for the UK to open up and hope to be
first in line. The good news? Our frequent flyer miles, which are tied to
our main credit card, have accumulated to the point where we could fly
anywhere in the world several times over. 
One thing that helped us tremendously in the no-travel desert was the
ability to escape to our cottage in northern Wisconsin. We spent a lot more
time there than usual last summer and also at Christmastime. And we were
able to rent a lovely Airbnb in Florida for two weeks in March. That felt
healing.
We’re optimists. We’ve made plans to spend almost three weeks in Australia
and New Zealand over the Christmas holidays 2021. Will we have to cancel?
That remains to be seen.

Tracee: When asked I always say travel! Of course, I miss traveling. But honestly a lot of the fun of traveling is the anticipation, and that’s what I miss most of all. Staying home hasn’t been a real trial, it is the intellectual and emotional part – anticipation, planning, that I miss. (Okay, I miss going to museums most of all.) Since we didn’t know how long restrictions would last, my husband and I had postponed concrete thinking about trips. Part of me enjoyed the pace, no pressure to go places I might not entirely want to! However the internal toll is hard, or can I now say WAS hard. 

Susan: In a lot of ways, I thrived during the pandemic. I liked being holed up in my office with my little dogs. I got tons of writing done. When I needed to get out, I could roam around the woods. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer from loss of income because my teaching continued, just on Zoom. And I got to spend a lot of time with my husband, which was much more pleasant than I would have expected. One of my favorite developments was the regular Sunday afternoon Zoom calls with my kids. 

The down side, of course, was that I couldn’t actually see them or hug them, or my friends. There were times I felt like my life had narrowed down to one very small space and that I was in the process of being erased. People I loved got sick and had to go to the hospital and I couldn’t see them. So as all this comes to a close, I hope, I am probably more of an introvert than I was, but I am going to try to embrace my hidden extrovert. Hugs all around!

Tracee: Susan, I must agree that I enjoyed time at home and in fact my husband and I were so content that I wasn’t at all productive. I felt like a pioneer, tending the (new) garden, cooking, and reading. But I found it hard, or impossible, to be creative. I need that out-in-the-world experience, at least periodically!

Emilya: I definitely miss travel and general spontaneity more than anything. We had to cancel a trip to Europe. I miss seeing live music very much. I miss parties. I miss being able to wake up on a weekend morning and decide to go to a museum without having to buy tickets a week in advance. 

As for missing anything about the pandemic… not much. I do agree that I got to see and hear a lot more authors in online readings and panels than I would have been able to in person, but I still prefer going some place, sitting down, listening, and then mingling. I’m not an extrovert, but I need that bit of external input. Especially in the colder months! 

Alexia: Honestly, I will miss a lot about being quarantined. I will miss my 30-second commute from my bedroom to my office. I will miss seeing people’s pets and kids and spouses make unexpected Zoom appearances and I’ll miss seeing who has the best Zoom background. I hope virtual conferences continue because I was able to participate in a lot more events via cyberspace than I was in person. I hope large, in-person lectures are a thing of the past. I discovered that watching a pre-recorded lecture on my schedule, with the ability to pause and rewind (and, let’s face it, speed up to 1.5 speed) is more productive than crowding into an over-airconditioned lecture hall, shoehorning myself into an uncomfortable chair with no elbow room, and trying not to look at my watch to see how many minutes left until lunchtime.

I’ll miss having the city mostly to myself. I’m already annoyed by the loud, inconsiderate people who hog the sidewalk, equate shouting with talking, and treat the sidewalk as their personal trash can. I will also miss having my choice of parking spaces. I will miss short TSA lines at O’Hare airport. I’ll miss masks. I enjoyed buying fun patterns and coordinating them with my outfits. I’m going to hang on to mine and use them next fall/winter. I loved not being sick with a cold or influenza this past year.

I attended my first social event in a year today–my classmates and I gathered at the local watering hole for an adult beverage and snacks after our last class. The class was a walking tour and the pub seemed like a fitting place to wind things up. I didn’t realize until then how much I missed the occasional semi-spontaneous, causal get-together with a few friends or colleagues. (Not parties. I will never, ever miss parties or “work things.” Those involve forced hilarity with people you’d rather not associate with any longer than you have to.)   I look forward to being able to have a meal in a restaurant without having to plan ahead. I look forward to hotel lobby lounges opening up again. They (and airport lounges) are still my favorite place to hang out and people watch. And I look forward to being able to attend church services again. Rather, I look forward to the opportunity to re-join the Altar Guild. That was one ministry that didn’t really have much of a place in the virtual church world. I do hope churches continue to live stream, though. Shut-ins and travelers are able to attend church services that way. The biggest lesson I learned from the pandemic (aside from how much of an existential threat some people consider a face-covering to be) is how inaccessible many activities were and how technology lowers barriers to accessibility.

Oh, and museums. I missed museums, libraries, bookstores. I look forward to being able to browse in those for as long as I want without having to do advanced planning or making a reservation for a narrow time slot. I miss the symphony, too, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend that anyway, due to school.

As for me (Michele), I missed traveling to Mexico where I normally spend the coldest winter months and to Ireland where I am discovering and increasingly enthralled by my family roots with each trip. I missed hugging my family. But I also discovered that I love the beauty and isolation of Cape Cod in the winter, which oddly nurtures a writer’s soul more than any place I’ve ever written.

What did you miss most during the pandemic and is there anything you will miss about being quarantined? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or here.

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