19 Things We Took For Granted Before The COVID-19 Pandemic That We Miss Now

The coronavirus pandemic has altered nearly every facet of our lives: the way we work, learn, parent, eat, socialize and more. The many changes we’ve undergone have caused us to reflect on life before COVID-19. We now find ourselves longing for the simple moments, interactions and experiences we never gave much thought before.

As we look back on the last year, we asked people to share the specific things they miss that they took for granted in their pre-pandemic lives. Here’s what they told us:

1. Sitting on a plane, hours into a long flight

“That’s the point where you’re completely disconnected from the world, munching on complimentary biscuits and watching the third movie you didn’t get to see in theaters.” — Jen Ruiz, travel blogger at Jen On A Jet Plane

2. Going to kids’ parties and events

“I used to complain about another school fundraiser pizza night or the money involved with that dance recital. Now I miss it all. I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with other parents, trying to get the perfect photo. I want to pay $3 a slice for a piece of cold Costco pizza to benefit my kid’s school. Bring me all the birthday parties.” — Samantha Scroggin, parenting blogger at Walking Outside In Slippers

3. That feeling you get right when a concert begins

“When you’ve been waiting for the band to start, and everyone is getting restless and excited. Then, at last, the lights dim, the guitarist strikes a warm-up chord and suddenly everyone is on their feet cheering.” — Adrienne Hedger, illustrator at Hedger Humor

Concerts and many other live events with spectators haven’t been able to happen this year because of the pandemic. 

4. Smiling at people on the sidewalk

“Now nobody can tell who is smiling and who isn’t, so you don’t feel like you’re connecting with others in your neighborhood.” — Samantha Rodman, psychologist

5. Waiting in the car line to pick the kids up from school

“Although the moms would always stare — like they’ve never seen an old guy in his pajamas blast Def Leppard with the windows down.” — Steve Olivas, host of “The Commute” podcast

6. The sensory experience of walking into a movie theater

“Can’t you just hear the sound of movie theater popcorn popping as you walk into the theater to see the latest movie to come out? More importantly, can’t you smell the buttery goodness?” — Scroggin

Sure, you can watch a movie at home on your couch, but it doesn't compare to the experience of seeing one in theaters.

Sure, you can watch a movie at home on your couch, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of seeing one in theaters.

7. People-watching

“When I had spare time, I would go downtown and photograph people in a city environment. They were people I knew nothing about. Then I’d spend lots of time wondering what their life was like, who they were and what they were doing. But now I just don’t enjoy people-watching as much. I think I’m too aware of the general struggle of people maneuvering through the pandemic.” — Kenton Waltz, photographer

8. Seeing a play

“I have always gone to see a lot of live theater, no matter where I’ve lived. And, although I live outside of Houston now, I still manage (or managed) to get to New York City at least four times a year to see at least two shows a visit. It may sound, ahem, over-dramatic to say it, but I ache for it. Anticipating the experience as a hush falls over the crowd. Being completely entranced as time stands still. Sharing the experience with a roomful of strangers. All of it. I never dreamed how much I would miss it.” ― Jenny Block, author of “Be That Unicorn”

9. Giving a hug

“Who knew shaking hands and hugging would be something I would have taken for granted? Even in New Zealand, with no community COVID-19 cases, I find myself second-guessing how to greet someone and end up sitting there for a few seconds awkwardly.” — Eamon Wood, travel blogger at the Wayward Wheeler

Greeting people with hugs and handshakes hasn't been safe this year.  

Greeting people with hugs and handshakes hasn’t been safe this year.  

10. Going to class

“Online classes are extremely tough, and I never thought I’d have to do university like this when I started last year. I miss being around other students and studying in class with other people.” — Denisha Bracey, student

11. Having a date night

“I miss being able to have a night out on the town with my husband, whether it be taking in a play and a nice dinner or just walking around a mall at the holidays. Being immunocompromised, my husband and I have had to be super vigilant and conscious about everything we’re doing. I miss being able to savor those special moments.” — Matthew L.M., learning and development professional

12. Doing “the wave” at a baseball game

“Is there anything as invigorating and uplifting as a sea of strangers standing up and lifting their arms one by one in a dance of humanity and collective appreciation for their favorite baseball team? I miss the roar of the crowd. The crack of the bat. The cheering. All with one purpose: pushing your team to victory.” — Scroggin

Fans sorely miss the energy of attending a baseball game and participating in silly rituals like "the wave."

Fans sorely miss the energy of attending a baseball game and participating in silly rituals like “the wave.”

13. Getting dressed up to go out

“I miss wearing my most studded leather jacket or a fine suit with Chelsea boots. I miss the routine of getting ready early before date night with my wife and taking turns in the mirror doing our hair and makeup.” — Tevy Khou, illustrator

14. Having conversations with strangers

“Randomly meeting people in public and making new connections. Unexpected grocery store conversations or just petting someone’s dog. It’s so difficult to do that now that we have to keep our distance from each other.” — Bracey

15. Giving a standing ovation

“When you’ve just witnessed and incredible performance, and someone starts the standing ovation, and then one by one everyone else joins in.” — Hedger

16. Going out to eat with friends

“I miss food that I didn’t cook or that doesn’t come from the same two or three places in the small Texas lake town in which I live. We go into Houston on occasion and get takeout and we took an RV trip for a couple of weeks around Thanksgiving and had to-go food from local haunts. But I miss the culinary surprises that came with work and volunteer travel and meeting up with friends. I miss the friends and the travel, too. Desperately. But I also miss the food itself. I miss the sensations of the familiar and the unfamiliar alike and the satisfaction that brings.” — Block

Sitting down for a meal at a restaurant is a luxury many haven't experienced since the pandemic began. 

Sitting down for a meal at a restaurant is a luxury many haven’t experienced since the pandemic began. 

17. Drinking a concession stand beer

“When they hand you the beer and it’s full to the absolute rim, so you have to hold it away from your body, and it’s dripping down the sides onto your hand. You have to quickly drink some of it to get to a manageable level.” — Hedger

18. Being able to take care of a sick relative

“A family member came down with COVID-19 a few weeks ago. They live across the country, so I didn’t have the opportunity to book a red-eye and be by their side. Being physically present with loved ones can aid with healing, and we didn’t have that option.” — Sinclair Ceasar III, mental health writer and speaker

19. Having more faith in humanity

“I realize now that I thought there would be more unity during a widespread, life-changing event such as this pandemic. So much becomes politicized in our country that shouldn’t be, especially when so many have lost so much. I miss believing that more people would ultimately do the right thing.” — Sham P. of @HomeWithPeanut on Twitter

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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