Introducing my small child to the big world after a year of quarantine.

Ready or not, here we come.

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Around here, we are in the middle of conducting a cross-country move, finishing the school year, and beginning the weird process of surfacing into public life. So we’re keeping this week’s post short and sweet.

For the last little while, I’ve been keeping a list of things that I have been looking forward to in post-vaccine life, and mine looks something like this:

Tapas. I want tiny plates of delicious bites of food, arranged prettily, that are far too rich and complicated for me to make at home. This feels like the opposite of home-cooked food and takeout to me and I want ALL of the beautiful little dishes served to me, one after the other.

Live music and theater. Sharing a collective experience and simultaneously feeling emotions with a large group of strangers seems almost too big and delicious to bear right now.

Brunch. Elevated breakfast food and coffee is just the peak of out-of-the-house life for me.

Riding on a boat.

Playing on a beach with my child.

Hugs. (At one point I had visions of all of us lining up in big fields and just running and hugging each other—but it’s not working out like that, is it?)

Eating a big meal at a table surrounded with friends who are laughing and catching up and talking about all the interesting things they have been doing—not Netflix and podcasts—but dance lessons and visits to exotic islands and long catch-ups with their grandmothers.

The music of children’s voices and water splashing at a public pool.

Lazily walking around a big city, happening across delightful things like art galleries, and bakeries, and street art—alone, but not, while the thrum of people and life play in the background.

Introducing my child—who has mostly only known our house and her preschool during her two-year old quarantined life—to the big world. Art, nature, people! She recently tried out the words “friend’s house” when we went to visit some vaccinated neighbors for the first time, and that was a weird and sad moment. (Her pandemic friends have been her cousins, who have absolutely been the silver lining of the pandemic x 1 million).

In the last few weeks we already got to do a few of these things, and maybe my favorite was visiting a marine aquarium. I wasn’t totally ready for how much it would mean to me to show my child the tentacles of a purple-red Octopus, or tiny seahorses clinging to seaweed with their curled tails, or the feathered claws of a Yeti crab—and her sheer wonder that they don’t just exist in books and cartoons. For some reason the thing that she said she wanted to see the most at the aquarium was eels, which are pretty gross-looking and creepy. But that’s what she wanted, and it seemed like every eel in the aquarium came out to rear its lumpy, open-mouth breathing-face for her, in a sort of post-vaccine life serendipity. She was thrilled.

They say that rediscovering the world through a child’s eyes is one of the delights of parenting. But after a year of isolation, rediscovering the world together feels even more rich and intimate.

I hope you get to do something old and wonderfully new with people you love this week.

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