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5 Things I Will Still Not Do Post-Pandemic

COVID-19 changed everything — a few things for the better.

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illustration of woman annoyed by other passengers doing different activities on the plane, pandemic, post pandemic
Michael Parkin
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While I won’t claim the pandemic has had much in the way of a silver lining, it did open my eyes to living my life differently — and actually better. In fact, I’m pretty certain there are things that I won’t return to, even when it is medically safe to do so. Here’s a short list of things I will never do again.

Go bonkers celebrating holidays

It was so relaxing to have a small Thanksgiving with just five of us around the table, instead of the usual crowd of 15 to 20. It was way less expensive to shop for food, I could cook without worrying about the gluten-free or vegans, and the cleanup didn’t take hours or a million “helpful” hands in the kitchen putting things away in the wrong places, never to be seen again. Nobody needed to deal with flight delays or gridlocked highways to get to my table. Instead of working at the local food bank, we brought plates of food over to our shut-in neighbors and spent a few masked minutes with them. I got to try some fancy new recipes, rather than the same old, same old, and we didn’t have to contend with any unpleasant family members who drank too much and couldn’t turn off their politics or their judgements for the sake of a pleasant afternoon. Instead, we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious meal and truly felt thankful to be alive and COVID-free.

Fly coach

As of this writing, I haven’t seen the inside of an airplane since before COVID-19 crossed the runway into our lives. But I can state unequivocally that my days of sitting in the cattle car of the economy section are over. I will never again squeeze into a middle seat between strangers just to save a few bucks. I’m upgrading my flying to business class or I’m not going. Even though the perks of first class and business class have been scaled back, the benefits — a wider seat, quicker boarding and a private airport lounge in which to wait out delays — all allow for greater social distancing and are worth it to me. I am not alone in wanting more personal space. A survey of travelers conducted by the International Air Transport Association after the start of the pandemic found that their biggest worry was the prospect of sitting next to someone who might be infected with COVID-19. And, yes, size matters. Condé Nast reports that first-class seats on international wide-body planes like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner offer around 1,600 square inches, whereas a cramped coach seat averages around 527 square inches.

Enjoy a crowd

My family’s mantra to manage the pandemic came down to this: Trust no one fully and strangers not at all. That, by definition, pretty much eliminated being in any crowded place. We are vaxxed to the max and faithful mask wearers. It’s everyone else I worry about. At the same time, we developed a system to assess our risk. That starts by acknowledging there is a value to everything we wanted to do (see grandkids, have friends over for dinner, travel to someplace warm and sunny), and we balanced that value against our risk of getting sick if we did it. In my household, it always came down to crowd size being the mitigating factor. We went to an outdoor concert where we had to show our vaccination cards, wore masks and sat away from everyone else. We didn’t go to an indoor movie theater, which could be crowded and could lack adequate ventilation. We switched to getting our groceries delivered, but we did eat lunch in an outdoor cafe. Heck, we even got married in the midst of the pandemic, because the value of our partnership and ceremony outweighed the risks of having an outdoor wedding, and most of our guests watched via Zoom. But crowds? I can’t see myself ever again going anywhere with a ton of people — big parties, nightclubs, huge-venue sporting events and concerts.

Go on a cruise

Cruises aren’t for everyone, and never were. But when the pandemic first hit, cruise ships quickly became the face of the pandemic nightmare. Cruisers were among the first who got sick and trapped aboard ships unable to disembark. Eventually, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to steer clear of cruising, despite the COVID safety measures the cruise industry put in place. I have no doubt that die-hard cruisers will return to their vacation of choice, but don’t count on seeing me aboard. Cruise ships simply have too many people, and I would be looking suspiciously every time someone sneezes within my hearing range.

Use my phone for important calls

After being stuck at home for more than two years, I accept that my social skills have probably decayed. I rely on social media platforms to communicate with the vast majority of friends and acquaintances. I genuinely prefer texting to talking in a “Just the facts, ma’am” kind of way. Quick and to the point. But during the pandemic, I began to use Facetime and Zoom in earnest. And I really like them. Plain old talking on the phone without any visuals just isn’t as satisfying. I want to see who I’m talking to. And knowing that I, too, will be seen gets me out of my pajamas and reaching for the makeup mirror, which is probably not such a bad thing after two years of isolation.

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