On my more hopeful days—when my dad got his first vaccine appointment, when the weather popped up above 50 degrees—I let myself imagine it. I consider the possibility of being maskless on a run, exhaling thoughtlessly the whole way through. I wonder what last night's takeout might look like plated at a restaurant, surrounded by mood lighting and smooth music. I picture myself hugging—hugging!—my friends, but also cuddling, piling on top of each other, allowing proximity to make up for lost months.

I don't know when our post-pandemic life will come, but with a vaccine rollout in place, I've allowed myself to wonder what one might look like and all I'll do once it's here. In honor of feeling joy again, we asked nine other women: What are you most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is behind us?

Kissing a stranger.

“Everyone I’ve ever kissed, I’ve known their full name, birthdate, and had at least one deep conversation with them. This is now one of my regrets. When the pandemic ends and we are all (or mostly all) vaccinated, the first thing I want to do is go out and kiss a random stranger! To quote the Backstreet Boys: 'I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did...' as long as you kiss me back! But even typing this makes my COVID radar—not to mention all the other communicable diseases we’re now hyper aware of—go off. So maybe I will have to ask if that person is vaccinated, or at least doesn't have any symptoms.” —Roxanne W., teacher

Licking my syrup-y fingers without thinking twice.

“I will walk into a diner—any diner, I do not care, it just has to smell like burnt frying oil and butter—and slide into the booth my friends of 20+ years are already drinking coffee in. Ideally, we’d be hungover from drinking stupid cocktails and dancing in a stupid bar we were far too old to be dancing in at all. Ideally, these plans were borne of texts that were sent half-asleep half an hour earlier and sparked no anxiety. Ideally, ideally, ideally. Whatever. I want to lock eyes real hard with my beautiful best friends as I’m talking too much to notice (until it’s too late!) the drip of pre-packaged syrup that proved too heavy for my gigantic bite of pancake. I want to stare deep into their gorgeous fucking faces while I drag my finger over an already-sticky counter-top, grimace, and, without breaking eye contact, say ‘it’s fine’ while I lick the syrup from the counter off my finger. I want to cruise right into whatever the fuck else I was about to say without having thought twice about the disgusting thing I just did. I want all of them to do it with me. I will do this—we will do this! And oh my god, we will finally feel free.” —Tess Koman, digital director, Delish

dream baby
That fateful night at Dream Baby.

Dancing outside the apartment.

“The night I met my boyfriend we went dancing at Dream Baby in the East Village, and I felt the first glimmer of love the moment I saw his David Bowie-meets-Prince moves. We’ve continued to have two-person dance parties throughout the pandemic, but nothing beats a loud, sweaty dance floor. I can’t wait for the moment I get to go all out—hardcore outfit (I already have probably three weeks worth planned), body glitter, maybe I’ll even break out my full backbend or some Syrian belly dancing moves if I’m feeling it. I just want to jump around and have fun.” —Margaux Anbouba, associate beauty editor, ELLE

Looking in the mirror and seeing the person I was before.

“I’m ready to bring back red lipstick when it’s safe to not wear a mask. I’m excited to get dressed up again, look in the mirror, and see someone closer to the person I was before the pandemic made me scared of everything. Most of all, I’m excited to be with friends and family and regain the half of myself I lost when I was no longer able to see the people I love sharing life with in person. There will be outdoor parties and rooftop bar visits! There will be Fourth of July, where the park is filled with so many people it’s unnerving, but then you see the prettiest firework display that makes all the trauma you endured getting there and back worth it. The best day, though, will be when we all feel the fear from the pandemic lift and can exhale, when things will legitimately be OK-ish again. We’ll be able to go outside, mask-free, and breathe in the air without being so scared of disease. That moment will come. For now, it's such a wonderful thought, to gain back the precious things we once took for granted with a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation.” —Alyssa Bailey, news & strategy editor, ELLE.com

Getting drunk and eating greasy pizza.

“I can’t wait to eat drunk food. I want to be out past 11 p.m., snacky and buzzy and on a hunt for the kind of grease-pool pizza I’d never commit to before a couple of beers. (Maybe even beers that I consumed inside a place? With friends I don’t live with? An adult woman can dream.) My boyfriend frequently reminds me that it is actually very easy to get drunk at home and go to Artichoke Pizza, which is about a five-minute walk from our apartment, but it IS NOT the same.” —Julia B., social media editor

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Watching a show, surrounded by community, at the theater.

“I miss a lot of things about theater: I miss shoving my coat under a too-small seat. I miss the man in the red jacket who yells 'Bravo!' to the performers during curtain call. I miss the woman in front of me who pulled out an entire ziplock bag of pizza at Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. But what I miss most about theater is the silence between the house lights going down and stage lights going up. These moments are the closest thing I will ever know to time travel, and I desperately want them back. During this time, you're transported to a place where your own problems have no impact in the story that's about to unfold. You are surrounded by strangers, but you will be leaving with a shared experience. Now more than ever do we need community built by shared experiences. The closest I've gotten to this feeling in the past year is this video actor Rob McClure shared on March 12, aka the day Broadway shut down last year. I've worked in the theater community for my entire professional career. I've come to realize this time had to have happened for our industry to examine the pain and anger it has caused communities of color and to hold systems accountable as they rebuild. There are now so many new stories to be told, and I can't wait to watch them, support them, soak them up in my soul and talk about them at length over a glass of wine.” —Caitlyn G., social media manager

Going out and making out.

“Right before COVID, I was just finishing up a figurative little year in the woods doing the thing where I worked on myself and didn't date, so it has been a great irony to have spent this pandemic year doing...more of the same, except less willingly. So after all this alone time, I am sorry to say but I am READY and GEARING UP for the day I can waltz into Night of Joy at 1 a.m. and make out with the nearest stranger. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. What's more likely is that I'll still have crippling anxiety about swapping spit with strangers for the rest of my life, but I'm trying to be optimistic!” —Delia C., writer

Traveling like Lizzie McGuire.

“I've spent the last few months planning every detail of my first international trip when it becomes safe to travel again. I'll spend a few days riding around Rome on a Vespa à la Lizzie McGuire and then work my way down to Naples, Italy, where my family is originally from. I will eats lots (and lots and lots) of pizza. Pizza for every meal. And gelato, of course.” —Rose Minutaglio, staff writer, ELLE.com

alexis and her sister emma
Alexis, left, and her sister Emma.

Seeing my sister and doing literally anything.

“My little sister is my favorite person, almost everyone knows this about me. She recently started college down south, and with me being more than 10 hours away, it was already difficult to see her. Then with the pandemic, our chances to see each other in person became smaller and smaller. I am so looking forward to the day that I can see her again and not through a FaceTime screen. I want to be able to go to concerts, see a movie, hang out in the park, take trips to our respective cities, and argue about which state has the best pizza. I want to be able to do all of these things with her, but even more, just hug her without fear of getting sick or causing more harm, because there’s nothing that brings me more joy than spending quality time with my sister.” —Alexis Gaskin, beauty assistant, ELLE

Headshot of Madison Feller
Madison Feller

Madison is a senior writer/editor at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture. When she's not on the internet, you can most likely find her taking a nap or eating banana bread.