At the risk of being unfriended, ratioed, doxed, piled on and mocked, I’m already feeling pangs of post-COVID nostalgia. I know it’s premature, as we’re not close to being out of the woods, but there’s a lot I know I’m going to miss.
No, I won’t miss clawing my way through the supermarket aisle because the face mask is fogging my glasses or stressing whether the tickle in the back of my throat will send me to the ICU. I won’t miss arguing epidemiology with people who barely made it out of shop class. I won’t miss having to find increasingly novel excuses to bail on Zoom sessions. And I definitely won’t miss my social-distancing doubles partner forgoing a high five when I hit a spectacular down-the-line winner to take a competitive third set.
But there are many things I’m going to miss when it’s in the rearview.
I’m going to miss not having a built-in excuse for spurning gatherings of more than two people. This includes everything from business meetings to social gatherings, especially social gatherings. “Honey, the Fishers invited us to join them and several other couples for dinner next Saturday.” Conservatively, there are about 50 things I’d rather do than subject myself to two hours of Laurie and Mark Fisher talking about their kids and the photo safari they had to put off till it’s safe to leave the continent. Sorry guys, but on Dr. Fauci’s orders I’ll have to take a rain check.
I’ll miss hiding behind my face mask on my occasional forays into civilization. Roaming the aisles of Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond for life-sustaining provisions in almost complete anonymity feels like a superpower — not quite as useful as flight or X-ray vision, but I’d probably find it more tempting to abuse those if I had them.
I won’t miss having too much visual information foisted on me during business-related Zoom sessions. Getting a keyhole glimpse into the personal lives of our co-workers and colleagues loses its charm after the 10th time one of their “delightful” kids crashes into the frame. However, I will admit — not proudly, but in the interest of transparency — that I will miss being able to entertain the thrilling possibility that at any moment a widely reviled co-worker or colleague will forget where he/she is and go full Jeffrey Toobin.
Once everyone is back to living their best lives, we’re all going to miss being immune to FOMO — the fear of missing out. The pandemic made even the airbrushed world of Facebook more real and nominally tolerable. When even the rich, famous and fabulous are dressed down with nowhere to go, we’re one big unhappy family, taking comfort in our collective unhappiness. I will miss that and so will you.
I’m going to miss the Zoom sessions I’ve been having with friends I hadn’t seen, or in some cases thought of, in years. I assume we’ll all gradually melt back into our real lives as the pandemic recedes and we realize there’s nothing left to talk about.
Of course, these wistful longings will be offset by being able to eat at my favorite crowded restaurants, listen to live music, go to games and travel. My daughter and mom — your kids, parents and grandparents — will be safe and able to resume their lives, and the economy will be turned back on. All good. But when Laurie and Mark Fisher call and invite us for dinner, I will deeply miss the days of social distancing and handy excuses like an unreconstructed hippie pines for the brief shining summer of love.