When the World Opens Up

The things we’ll do.

By Melissa Kirsch

Welcome. As people around the world begin to receive the coronavirus vaccine, our thoughts may turn — tentatively, still, but more frequently — to hopes for the time when quarantine restrictions are lifted. “The important thing about imagination is that it gives you optimism,” the psychology professor Martin Seligman told the reporter Tariro Mzezewa. Imagining what we’ll do, who we’ll see and where we’ll go when things open up — these fantasies sustain us while we are, for now, still mostly apart and inside.

Last month I asked about your dreams for the post-pandemic future, what’s on the list of things you’ll do first, as soon as you’re able to — the things large and small that you find yourself longing for. So many of us can’t wait to see loved ones, relatives who are far away, grandchildren we’ve never met in person. We’re excited to see unmasked faces, to crowd into public spaces, to grocery shop at leisure, to browse the library, to hold hands and to hug. Here’s some more of what readers are fantasizing about:

“I want to see a movie in a theater, sticky floors and stale popcorn and all. I miss the whole experience of going on opening night, when we all clap in unison during the credits and stay until the lights come back on.” —Kristina, Chicago

“Seeing people’s faces again. Their whole faces. The white of their teeth when they smile or how they chew their bottom lip when deep in thought.” —Laura B., La Crosse, Wis.

“I want to see live performance again — whether it’s dressing up and sitting in the symphony hall listening and watching as the performers tune up and start playing, sitting on the lawn seeing Shakespeare in the park or dancing to a Tom Petty cover band.” —Lynne M., Coppell, Tex.

“I am most eager to spend time with my grandchildren again, to hug them tight and read to them and discuss dinosaurs and assemble Lego sets with them again.” —Patricia S., Maitland, Fla.

“Flying to California and hugging my 90-year-old mother.” —Phyllis F., Kittery, Me.

“I’m looking forward to hugging. My father, the kids I teach, my adult son, I want to hug them all then have a great big dinner party where our friends come and gather and linger and watch each other smile, maskless.” —Sarah F., Natchez, Miss.

You can check out more post-pandemic plans from Times readers here and here.

When I’m not dreaming of jogging without a mask or having friends over to try all the recipes I’ve perfected during quarantine, I’m trying to memorize some of my favorite poems. I recently committed to memory the tongue-twisty “Spelt from Sybil’s Leaves,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and now recite it to myself like a mantra, in the shower, while walking home from the supermarket, interior music.

I read Jericho Brown’s “Inaugural” and immediately knew I wanted to memorize it, too. “Grown up from the ground,/Thrown out of the sea, fallen from the sky,/No matter how we’ve come, we’ve come a mighty/Long way.”

Here are 393 videos of different groups, all over the world, dancing Pina Bausch’s Nelken Line.

And there’s a second season out of the wonderful YouTube series “Group,” about a bunch of New Yorkers in group therapy, inspired by Irvin Yalom’s novel “The Schopenhauer Cure.” Check it out.

Tell us.

What’s on your mind? What are you thinking about, wishing or wondering? Write to [email protected] We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for leading a good life at home appear below. See you on Friday.

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