In thinking about the content we wanted to share with you today—Inauguration Day—we began with a conversation about our emotions. We're feeling grateful, anxious, and excited, but most of all hopeful about what the future holds. A recent issue of The New York Times' "At Home" section featured readers' "plans for 'after'." The plans ranged from "experiencing once again the sweet smell of my 3-year-old grandson" to in-person Hula-Hoop workouts, and being able to say "I'll sleep on the plane." In conversations with friends, and on our team calls, we've been shifting to the "after" too—especially today. As more people receive vaccinations against COVID-19 and we inaugurate a president with a specific plan for eradicating the virus, we feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible and we're—dare we say?—optimistic for what 2021 could look like. Of course, there are the big things we hope to do, like attend weddings (including, in some cases, our own!) and see our family. But on a recent team call, we shared all of the random, much smaller things we're looking forward to post-COVID (like the things we took for granted and used to do all the time without a second thought!). Below are a few of them—and we hope you share yours in the comments too, and that they bring you as much joy as they brought us:
1. Take Sloan to school. I never knew how much I enjoyed our hurried weekday mornings, and all of the parts of getting out the door on time, until they were gone. I can't wait for Sloan's first official day of elementary school that isn't done online—packing her lunch with a note, feeling her little hand in mine as we walk inside, and that indescribable excitement of waiting to pick her up and find out about her first day.
2. Hug my friends. I wouldn't call myself particularly affectionate when it comes to anyone outside of my immediate family. But that will all change once we're able to actually be in close proximity to other people. I plan on embracing my friends with such ferocity and frequency that it can only be compared to the Christian the Lion video, which never fails to make me cry.
3. Leisurely walk through a store. One of my favorite pastimes is to reallllly take my time in a grocery store. I'm talking walking up and down each and every aisle (a.k.a. G's nightmare), researching products as I go, stopping for samples, striking up conversations with strangers, basically anything that doesn't resemble the frenzied experience of getting in and out as quickly and safely as possible.
4. Pack for a trip. As a procrastinator who is terribly disorganized and also suffers from a lot of pre-trip anxiety, I've always found the process of packing to be unnecessarily stressful. But you better believe that the first time I get to dust off my suitcase will be filled with such an enormous amount of enthusiasm that I'll be prepped weeks in advance of my trip.
5. Sit at the chef's counter. G and I used to go on weekly dates and while we've done a decent job of recreating them at home, it's one of the things I miss most about being out in the world. I can't wait to support the restaurants we love most (and discover new ones!) in person, sitting next to other diners at a chef's counter. Though it lacks the intimacy of individual tables, we've had some of our best meals in this casual spot (Petit Trois, Bestia, and Milo & Olive are all favorites with a chef's counter). Getting to talk to the chefs as they prepare food and feeling the energy of the kitchen, while getting a closer look at what other people are ordering never gets old.
1. Go to concerts that start way past my bedtime. I used to be super picky about concerts—while Jonah attended dozens of concerts a year, I joined him for maybe one a month (mostly because I go to bed before most main acts even start). But what I wouldn't give to be drinking a warm beer, late at night, in a room full of people waiting for the next set.
2. Play Catan with our best friends. At the height of our Catan obsession, we had friends over every Friday night to drink, eat takeout, and play our favorite board game. While we've taken the tradition online since COVID began (this site is great!), nothing compares to the belly-laughs that come from sitting around a board game with close friends.
3. Do Savasana in a room full of people. While I've rediscovered yoga through Peloton classes (I love the instructor Aditi Shah), I miss the energy that comes from a room full of people taking a few minutes to rest and recharge after a challenging flow. (Heck, I even miss skipping Savasana for the all-out race to the showers at pre-work classes!)
4. Read a book in a coffee shop. The combination of a cozy place to read, a book I bought earlier that day after leisurely browsing, a mug of coffee I didn't make myself, and people-watching is my idea of heaven.
5. Cook dinner for friends. Lighting a candle, building a cheese board, selecting the playlist, adding final touches to the fresh pasta we've made, and opening a bottle of wine before our friends walk through the front door without a face mask in sight...
1. Enjoy theater performances (and lots of musicals). It sounds silly, but I'd say the times I feel most "alive" are when I'm crammed in a small seat among hundreds of other musical-loving theater nerds, geeking out at the latest Broadway musical with its animated dance numbers and brilliant songwriting. Since they bring me so much joy, I try to see one show a year, and while my soundtracks have kept me company over the past few months, it's not quite the same as the real thing (also, if anyone can enlighten me as to when the Tony's are scheduled, I'd greatly appreciate it).
2. A freakin' haircut. Oh how I miss the smell of hairspray, the sound of my dead ends being snipped off, and the glorious five minutes spent getting my hair shampooed that's essentially a scalp massage. The last haircut I got was in January 2020 (though I've attempted some at-home trimming) and I long for the day I can chop it all off again.
3. Date nights anywhere but our house. While I thrive in the comfort of my own home, Justin and I would really appreciate the ability to be more spontaneous for our date nights. We've nailed the pizza-and-Jeopardy evenings on the couch and the puzzle-and-chill weekend afternoons, but a little variety couldn't hurt.
4. Volunteer. After an enlightening and trying year, it's never been more apparent how fortunate I am—from my education, to my easy access to food, to have even had the option to stay home all day, every day. There are ways to volunteer and give back virtually, but I'm looking forward to discovering in-person opportunities around me in L.A. once it's safe to work with others again. I've heard great things about and plan on using Volunteer Match, which can help connect anyone interested with an organization doing good work that speaks to you.
5. Vintage-shop and visit flea markets. I used to dread waking up at the crack of dawn to arrive early enough at vintage fairs and flea markets to justify the trip. Now, I know I'll relish that early morning weekend alarm, since I'll again have the privilege of being able to hunt for second-hand treasures among a crowd of people.
1. Go to the movies. Going to the movies is one of my all-time favorite outings. I'll go with friends, on a date, or by myself–as long as I have popcorn and candy in hand, I'm a happy gal. Going to see a movie with Jess and our "movie crew" is definitely high up on my priority list when it's possible again, but for now, I'd love to try a drive-in movie at some point during the pandemic.
2. Throw an extremely belated housewarming party. I moved into my apartment in December 2019, but didn't have enough furniture to really host a group right away–and then the pandemic hit. I've lived in this apartment for over a year now and I've had a grand total of three friends stop by to say hello in masks in that period of time. I can't wait to properly have some friends over to hang out and eat food with!
3. Resume "Sunday Show Night". Every Sunday, a group of my friends used to get together to eat dinner and watch an episode of a TV show (we did this for years during the "Game of Thrones" era). We attempted Season 3 of "Westworld" in March, but only got one episode in before calling it quits and heading into quarantine. I can practically taste the spaghetti squash and sausage casserole I know will be waiting for me the moment we can safely resume with a new show.
4. See my sister. Living within driving distance of my parents helped keep me sane in 2020, but my sister's family lives back in Minnesota, so it's obviously been a lot harder to see them during the pandemic. I have a $500 Delta credit to use from cancelling a flight home for the holidays, and I sincerely can't wait to drink a Caribou coffee while waiting at baggage claim at MSP once I'm vaccinated.
5. Host book club in person. My book club went virtual in March, but the thing I miss the most is catching up with everyone while stuffing myself with brie and hummus before we even talk about the book. The minute we can go back to chatting about books and drinking wine in person, it's happening.
1. Spend a day at the Georgia State Fair. Fall is hands down the time of year I always look forward to most, mainly because I can never get enough of the perfect, crisp weather, and the plethora of ongoing outdoor activities. I could spend hours aimlessly roaming around the Georgia Fall Fair (I live in Atlanta!), completely immersed in scents of fresh popcorn, hot dogs, and fried food. Nothing quite screams "fall is here!" like holding a stick of fluffy cotton candy while waiting in an obnoxiously long line for the ferris wheel.
2. Have a girls' night out. Oh, how I miss getting dressed up (or wearing normal clothes at all, for that matter) and going out with my best girl friends. It might just be because I'm still in my twenties, but pre-COVID, some of my favorite weekend nights were spent out on the town, discovering new spots to boogie and have a good time.
3. Finally meet the team in real life. I can confidently admit that I've already completely fallen in love with the cupcakes and cashmere team virtually, but I'm counting down the days until I can book my flight to sunny California (for the first time!) to finally meet everyone's smiling faces in person.
4. Travel to see family. While my mom's side of the family live in other parts of the world, I'm lucky enough to see them at least once a year. 2020 was a bit different since we couldn't travel to see each other, so I'm really looking forward to spending time with them this year—whether it be in England, Germany, or Ghana, my passport is ready!
5. Go to a neighborhood festival. Before the pandemic, one of my favorite things about living in Midtown Atlanta was always being a short walk away from any music, art, and food festival happening in surrounding neighborhoods. I'm probably my happiest self when moseying from art booth to art booth with a yummy summer cocktail in hand, surrounded by live music and friendly festival-goers.
P.S. Notice some new names here? You'll be seeing more of Lauren here! Get to know her better from our re-introduction to the team, here! x