As the United States starts talking about opening up again, we have found ourselves a bit excited about the things we’ll return to that are outside our homes.

We know we’re not returning to “normal.” We mourn the tens of thousands of Americans that we’ve lost to COVID-19, and we know the virus will remain a threat to the health of many individuals. We also know the shutdown of businesses and the norms of social distancing have put millions of people out of work, canceled major life events like funerals, weddings, and graduations, increased mental health concerns and loneliness, and more.

Staying home has had its ups and downs, but hope for a better day is one of the things that’s gotten us through this time.

We don’t really know when we’ll be encouraged to safely leave our homes and visit places like restaurants, shops, and churches. But while we wait for the cue to get back out there, we’d like to give ourselves a dose of hope by talking about those gatherings, people, and places we can’t wait to be reunited with.

The Verily Editors are kicking us off, and we’d like to hear from you in this form, too. We’ll be sharing your answers on our site and in our daily email in the days to come.

Meg McDonnell, Editor in Chief

I can’t wait to get back to my Orangetheory workouts in studio. Shortly before the coronavirus hit, I had joined an Orangetheory studio just a few blocks from my apartment complex. I’d become quickly attached to the intense workouts, the sore muscles, and afterburn feeling, and I was just starting to feel like I was getting stronger when everything started shutting down. While I’ve been so grateful for the online workouts Orangetheory has offered, I can’t wait to be encouraged by the coaches in-person and work up a sweat in the studio, again.

I’m also really looking forward to gathering with friends at someone’s house for dinner or book club. I’ve gathered with many friends for video happy hours, but I’m nostalgic for a lingering dinner around a friend’s dining room table or in one of our outdoor spaces.

Emily Lehman, Associate Editor

My friends and I used to meet, without fail, for dinner together on Fridays. We’d share the highs and lows of our weeks and stay up into the wee hours joking and talking. This tradition has been going on for years, long before I moved to my current hometown. The last time we did it, as with so many things in the time of coronavirus, we didn’t fully realize it would be the last time for a while. I’m so excited to get together again, share food (what an idea!) and tell each other the stories of our time apart.

Laura Loker, Associate Editor

I’m the girl who never moved out of her hometown (even for college!)… and is only now getting a real taste of what it’s like to live apart from family. Between my parents, my brothers and their families (most of whom also live nearby), and my own husband and kids, my family usually had some reason to get together regularly. (Birthdays alone cover every month of the year.)

Now, of course, Zoom calls have replaced big Italian dinners, and I’m missing everyone like crazy. So of everything I look forward to, I’m most excited about that first family celebration at my parents’ house—and the smell of my mom’s meatballs.

Kellie Moore, Verily Yours Editor

Some of the places I’m most excited about getting back to are places I’m also most nervous about. There’s part of me that’s counting down the days until I can take my toddlers to the playground again, but another part of me wonders when I’ll feel like it’s safe for them to play on something that’s being touched by so many other little hands. The same goes for the children’s section of the library, one of my favorite places in our small town—will we be waiting at the door the morning it opens, or will we hold off another month, just in case? My plan on those uncertain things, for now, is to take it a day at a time, and to venture back to them when the time feels right for us.

I think we’ll ease in gradually, starting with activities I feel more comfortable with. We’ll get together with friends who have also been strict about social distancing. We may go to the botanical gardens, or to the little zoo nearby (it’s usually pretty quiet), or our favorite state park. And I’ll probably pick up some donut holes from Dunkin’ Donuts and let my kids snack on them in our stroller while we wander through Hobby Lobby, just like old times.

Marquel Plavan, Social Media Editor

As an only child, I grew up without any real understanding of what it was like to have siblings; My parents and I were very close, but our family unit was small. Throughout college, I was lucky enough to cultivate deep, personal relationships with friends — to the point where these friends felt as close to siblings as I could imagine. In my first post-grad year (June 2019 to now), the friends that have remained in the Dallas area have done a fantastic job of sticking together. Six of us that spent nearly every day together started a weekly tradition of getting together for a home-cooked dinner by accident — an event that we eventually called “Family Dinner.” When the world is once again a safe place for social interaction, the first thing on our To-Do list will most definitely be another Family Dinner.

Additionally, as a food and hospitality photographer, I’ve been deeply missing, well, my work. I find that I thrive during long days shooting beautiful food at my favorite restaurants, bettering my craft each day and learning more and more about the mastery behind culinary arts. I can only imagine how the re-opening of these restaurants will probably feel like the best day of my life.