Warning: this was written during the quarantine. I’d love to think that things will be better when you all are reading this.

Whether or not that will be the case, please read this, enjoy it, relate to it, and most importantly, be safe and well.

I dream of the day when we can hug people who don’t live in our house. We can go in for the Bear Hug and envelop the person and squeeze. Or we can do the Light Hug And Back-Slap, which is common among men.

It’s just the right blend of masculine and affectionate. Then there’s the Polite Hug, a kind of sideways, no-lower-body-contact hug. Or there’s the Head-Resting-On-The-Other-Person’s-Shoulder Hug, the Comfort Hug.

Whatever your selected type of hug, I can’t wait to do them all. Not all at once, of course. And not to the same person. That’s creepy.

I dream of the day when we don’t have to dress like Darth Vader to go get milk.

I hope never to see another video of someone showing us how to make a mask out of coffee filters, socks, bras, jeans, bedding, underwear, wedding dresses, woven bamboo shoots, or tree branches.

I want to be able to walk around maskless with unfogged-up glasses. By the way, you’ve heard about that little trick for using shaving cream to wash your glasses? Nope. False. Tried it.

I dream of the day when I can safely shake someone’s hand.

Although, to be honest, I’m afraid that I’ll be so starved for contact that I’ll pull them in for the Bear Hug (see paragraph 2). Or worse, the Comfort Hug.

I dream of the day that we don’t have to disinfect everything that comes into our homes. I hate doing that. I always get a flash of anxiety that I missed a spot.

So it takes us four and a half hours to put away our groceries these days. We don’t buy ice cream for that very reason.

I dream of the day that we don’t have to strip down at the front door (preferably when it’s closed) and put our clothes in the wash, then sprint nude to the shower.

We’ve had some chilly days and it’s not pleasant. Plus I prefer not to run when I have no clothes on. Come to think of it, I prefer not to run, period.

I dream of the day when my family can gather around our table for a meal. I miss spitting out my food while laughing at my sons’ dialogue, which mostly consists of movie quotes and arguments.

I miss seeing my daughter-in-law Michelle roll her eyes while our two knuckleheads provide us with an impromptu comedy routine. I miss seeing my dad at my table, soaking up the company and laughing at his grandsons.

I dream of the day when our front-liners (police, fire, EMTs, dispatchers), our grocery workers, truck drivers, letter carriers, delivery people, restaurant workers, pharmacy workers, farmers, everyone in the medical field (especially in hospitals and long-term care facilities), and everyone who is working outside their homes during this quarantine don’t have to put their health on the line (for us) every time they report to work.

I dream of the day when we never have to hear the following words and phrases: social distancing, COVID 19, pandemic, flattening the curve, and case fatality rate.

I dream of the day when we can meet friends at a restaurant for dinner and talk and laugh and overtip our server and fight over the bill.

I dream of the day when I can hug and kiss our sons and our daughter in law. And our Aunt Blanche. And my dad.

I dream of the day that I can once again sit at dad’s table at Greenwood House and talk and laugh with him, his friend Jeff, and the wonderful and heroic and selfless staff.

I dream of the day when we are all safe from The Beast. But until then, stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane. And please, don’t come near me till we get the all-clear.

One more thing. Don’t wear tree branch masks. They hurt.

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.