We Asked the Association World: What Are You Most Excited to Do When the Pandemic Ends?

Last week, I overhead my daughter talking to a handful of friends about all the things they hoped to do once the pandemic ended.  What struck me about the conversation was their discussion did not include big grandiose plans and wild adventures but rather everyday tasks and activities such as going out to lunch with friends, a trip to the movies or taking our dog to the dog park. 

Inspired by their conversation, I decided to reach out to a handful of my “association VIPs” and ask them what they missed, what did they want to do once we could resume some sense of normalcy.

The answers reminded me how far off we are from what was previously common in our everyday lives. But at the same time, they made me laugh, were therapeutic and provided a sense of connection. 

And with that… “What are some of the things you’re most looking forward to doing once the pandemic has been controlled and we’re able to live something close to normal life again?” 

I think the thing I miss the most is having plans. And those could be small plans like going for lunch with friends, or big plans like taking a vacation abroad. But the key thing is having something to look forward to, and that always makes whatever the current slog is bearable. For me the slog has not changed that much, I’m still working from home, doing a lot of video calls, working remotely with clients. But the difference is that there is nothing to really break up the long stretch ahead of me. I look forward to having plans again. I look forward to making lists for what to bring on trips. I look forward to planning the meals we will have on beach vacations. I look forward to having a clear sense of the future, no matter how much of an illusion that might be.

Moira H. Edwards
Ellipsis Partners LLC

I had to think about this a bit. My family and I locked down early and quick due to some high risk in my immediate circle. And I said then and still say now, only half-jokingly, that quarantine is basically what my social life already was these days anyway. I am fortunate enough to on a large and beautiful piece of land with most of my loved ones nearby. Still as time has worn on, of course I’ve found myself missing things. I have two young kids at home – 8 and 4 – and while they have generally kept good spirits throughout, I know they miss their friends. My daughter’s 9th birthday is coming up in a few weeks and it will be a new experience for all of us. I’m looking forward to seeing them back together with the friends they love, their grandparents, and extended family. Those will be great moments. I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was a not-insignificant-amount of relief and not actually having to go to the 4, 5, 6… 10? – conferences I had on the calendar for the spring. And yet now I do find myself missing having had any opportunities at all to connect with my colleagues across our little worlds, and I am eager for the resumption of these patterns of my life. And frankly – I think – man, it’ll be nice to have a string of quiet days at the (home) office. My life these days has very little space for any down time to stop and process. I know my work and life will both benefit immensely from that. I’ll end on an optimistic note. I’m honestly really eager to see what the new normal looks like. I personally hope we don’t recognize it all that much. This is a dark time for our country but there are so many things we can learn and adopt from going through these challenges together and the solidarity that so many have shown. I hope it doesn’t all just wash away. I hope we can bring this patience, understanding, and kindness, back to the workplace with us. Back to our schools, and back to our society at large. I hope that we are able to bring long-lasting positive change into our lives throughout as a result of this extended collective trauma.

Liam O’Malley
Blue Sky eLearn

Above all, I’m looking forward to family celebrations. In two weeks, I’ll see eight family members at my niece’s wedding. (That’s eight family members, me, and the priest, in case you were wondering.) The elaborate wedding celebration, which has been in the works for over a year has been reduced to a quick ceremony and Panera sandwiches in the parking lot. So, I’m looking forward to family celebrations, without masks, without fear of getting sick or making someone else sick. Next on my list is baseball. It’s the only sport I really follow now, and I can’t wait to go to a game with my sons. Heck, I can’t wait to score a game I’m listening to on the radio. Finally, I desperately need a haircut. The enormous hair helmet has got to go!

Paul Gannon
Thoughtcast Media

The past 7 weeks have been quite an eye-opener for me. I really thought I would miss being in a physical office and early on I did. But now I am really enjoying spending commute time with my family sans any signs of road rage. I have also consistently closed all activity rings on my Apple Watch since lockdown. “The kids” have mastered roller blading, biking and more…. and it has been great to ACTUALLY be a part of their learning. So… mentally and physically definitely in a better place. I do however miss the sense of freedom. The freedom to hop on a plane for work or pleasure, to visit a local winery, to even order take out without having to plan the process of sanitizing before serving. Most of all I miss date night where my husband and I ventured out for dinner, drinks and a movie. I also really miss visiting my niece and playing who is going to turn 2 in September. How quickly they grow…. Most of all when a sense of normalcy returns, I hope to be able to find a balance. We are all human after all and when choice returns our priorities tend to change. I am hoping I make the right choices prioritizing family and being a good partner both at home & at work.

Gayathri Kher

Lots of things run through my mind as I think of what I most look forward to when this pandemic is in the past. First thought, on February 1st 2020, I escorted my father into an assisted living facility in Newark, Ohio. I told him I would see him soon and never imagined what came next with Covid19. My dad and I talk several times a week, but the same question keeps coming up. When do you think you will be able to visit? So I think my first trip will be to Ohio followed by a trip to Yorktown, VA to see my mother. Second, I would do anything to be able to watch a ball game live. I don’t care if its hockey, basketball, football or baseball…just get me to a park. This would also work very well into our now Saturday night family event, as we have had a poker night every Saturday night since the lock down! Lastly, getting back to the gym for a regular workout with my trainer and good friend Cliff Russel. I work out at home, but nothing close to the feeling I get walking out of his guy after an hour of punishment!

David Caruso
HighRoad Solutions

I can’t wait to…saunter at the farmers market and grocery store without masks, one-way aisles and six-foot distances. Go to a hockey game and watch the Canes win. Meet a friend for lunch. Spend a late afternoon at the beach. Go to our favorite local — a craft beer store — and hang out at the bar drinking and talking with fellow beer geeks. Get back to regular hair and massage appointments. Go to a club to see a band we love, dance/bounce around up front and talk to strangers. Return to my kick-butt classes at the gym. Sit around a table eating and drinking with other people besides my feller. Visit my Massachusetts family in real life not just Zoom. Seeing my association buddies at the next conference. Hug people without a care in the world.

Deirdre Reid
Association Marketing Writer & Association Management Expert (CAE)​

For me, being able to see friends and family again in person is #1. As an extrovert, being shut-in is a real challenge. A zoom happy hour does feed the soul the same. I’d also like to be able to plan ahead and know that those plans will come to fruition – whether it is going on a trip, planning a dinner out, or visiting a museum. My optimism is swelled by seeing future fun or interesting events on my calendar which I can look forward to. Finally, I love to work and would like to see work get back to more normal. It is extremely challenging operating in a sales & marketing capacity when organizations are now so incredibly risk averse. Our challenges are all “first world” problems, so not really that significant at all. We Just miss the conveniences of life that make it enjoyable.

Robert Miller
Gravitate Solutions

I would hug my parents who I have only seen through a door for months. I would have a huge celebration party for my son who is graduating high school but unable to celebrate it right now. I miss my niece and would love to go visit her to celebrate her college graduation in North Carolina. I am excited to go see live loud rock concerts again. I can’t wait to go shopping for things I don’t need and buy a new outfit to go out to dinner and leave a huge tip. Through this time, I have really enjoyed having more time with my son and enjoying lunch breaks with him. I miss my staff and them laughing at my stupid jokes. I find myself reflecting on life while appreciating the pause in chaos even though I get stir crazy working from home. I hope this helps us as humans appreciate each other more, be kinder to each other, appreciate simple things, and not take things for granted.

Wendy Sahli
Regulatory Affairs Professional Society

I look forward to drinking beers (and a little bourbon) with friends at a dive bar in DC watching the Caps, the Red Sox, a stage of the Tour de France, or the Butler Bulldogs! I might even miss sitting in traffic on the Beltway after a long day at the office (wait, did I just say that?!?!).

Dave Martin
American College of Radiology

While there are some things I will definitely miss from this time of quarantine, including the sound of my teens playing ping pong in the middle of our living room (there wasn’t a ping pong table there 6 weeks ago and there won’t be one once we’re no longer cooped up), I will definitely welcome back the ability to enjoy the scene at our local minor league baseball games, get challenged in an escape room after having brunch at our favorite pancake place, lounge at a rooftop bar with a good drink and a chill crowd, travel to new places around the world, and freely dance in the middle of a Nashville honky-tonk — I might even entertain a dance with the creepy dude a time or two.

Teri Carden
Review My AMS & Non Dues-A-Palooza

Great question and I’m looking forward to having dinner out. Going to a restaurant. Going the Fells Point, or DC, or Baltimore and simply walking around. I’m really looking forward to gigging again as all of the gigs for my two bands have been canceled. I’d love to play out again. I’m also looking forward to shaking hands with people and being able to speak to somebody without feeling like I have to shout. I’m hoping that we keep up our business practices and stop being a slave to an office. It simply doesn’t matter anymore. We have tools that make it almost as good as being there. Doesn’t eliminate the office, I don’t think this is the case for virtual offices. However, I think it provides a strong argument argument 4 working from home a good persuasive percentage of the month.

Erik Schonher
National Society of Professional Engineer

Having just started working at the U.S. Energy Storage Association, I am looking forward to when I am able to connect with my team in-person and form relationships with my new colleagues. There is no substitute for face-to-face relationship building. Other than professional development, I’m missing being able to eat out. As a self-proclaimed foodie, it’s sad to see so many local restaurants struggling, and knowing that many will not be able to survive. I miss being able to go wherever I want and not worry about close encounters. And, I’m sad for my young daughter, who does not quite understand why she can’t go to school, or visit her favorite places like Busy Bees, MyGym, and Badlands. Even going to large playgrounds is not possible, and I miss seeing that carefree play. On the positive side, even though life is busier at home, in some ways it’s less crazy with no activities, no birthday parties, no dinners with friends, etc. So while things remain busy, in some ways life has slowed down and offered an opportunity for more quality family time.

Larissa Fair
U.S. Energy Storage Association

I look forward to spreading OUT! While I love my family, we all need to be in our regular places during the day. My kids need to be at school with their friends and teachers. I need to spend time with my colleagues and clients and so does my husband. I am perfectly content to work remotely but not with my whole family around me 24/7! I am thankful for all for all of the front line people who slog through this crisis every day. I am thankful we have professions that allow us to continue to work. I am very lucky to live in a house with a yard and a porch in a neighborhood that lets us get out for regular walks and limited interaction with neighbors and friend. The silver lining has been uninterrupted time with our family. Last year our daughter was a senior in high school and we lived either at the high school or in the car shuttling to numerous activities. They were all fun – choir trips, musicals, senior projects and activities…it was just a lot! Our kids didn’t get to spend time together and the transition to college was very hard on our son (8th grader). In the last 2 month, they have been able to hang out and have goofy teen time. My first trip after life returns to normal will not be a trip to the salon – although it’s in the top 5. I will go to a restaurant near water with a friend and have a leisurely meal and people watch. Then I will take a long drive to a random spot ALL ALONE in the car with the windows down and radio up!

Gretchen Steenstra
DelCor Technology Solutions

It may be cheesy, but that’s never held me back before. If you know me, you know I’m a lover, not a fighter. And so with that in mind, I miss the embrace of friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’m a physical person. I like the embrace. There a connection there that doesn’t exist when you wave from 6 feet apart.

Dave Will
PropFuel--Voice of the Member Intelligent Engagement Platform

Some current circumstances are a bit like my initial response when the power goes out. Well, since I can’t watch TV, I’ll just turn on a light and read. And then I realize that I can’t simply turn on a light. I find now that many options are limited, or I’ll hit a dead end with an alternate idea. So, when life returns to more normalcy, I really look forward to eating at a restaurant- or more especially when the weather is pleasant, on a dining patio at a restaurant. Certain food just isn’t as good as takeout. I miss the ambiance of some places or simply like seeing a backdrop different than my own kitchen, dining room, or deck. There’s also something to be said for background chatter, piped in music from the ‘80s, watching people interact, and the dynamic energy of a restaurant. I’d really like to go to a baseball game. 2020 was a year when I had my sights set on going to more games than usual- and at all different levels. There’s a senior at the public high school about a mile from my house who’s gotten national attention and is one of the best players in Virginia. I had hoped to be able to say someday, “Yeah, I saw him play in high school.” I also had thoughts of going to a college game, a minor league game, and a major league game this year, but at this point I would just like to get to a baseball game at any level in the near future and “root, root, root for the home team”. Since I already worked from home primarily, my daily life on weekdays during business hours is much the same. I do miss local professional events or having meetings in Tysons, Alexandria, DC, etc. though. In fact one of my favorite things to do is to call or email an association professional to set up a time for coffee, lunch, or a meeting with them because I already have a reason to be near their office that day. I look forward to doing that again soon. Lastly, I look forward to interactions in public where neither of us is wearing a mask. I want to be able to hear voices clearly- not muffled or muted imitations of voices, and I miss facial expressions and the sometimes subtle cues that come with them that tell us so much more.

Jay S. Daughtry

If you are like me, you find comfort in ability to control–that we are the author of our destiny. This pandemic has turned that feeling upside down. There is no true timetable to starting up again or what that even looks like. This sense of not knowing is distracting.  And yet, I hope by reading these responses you smiled, laughed, found focus or (fill in the blank).

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