Straight Outta Lockdown

March 2021

Since it burst onto the North American scene in December 2019, Covid 19 has been relentlessly shutting down our lives, piece by piece. Mask mandates, work from home, Zoom meetings, lockdown. So many restrictions have been imposed for the good of our communities, and, for the most part, Ontarians have borne it admirably. But now, with two new vaccines beginning distribution, it seems like maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of this 2-year long tunnel.

So, I asked people, once life goes back to normal, what is the first thing you intend to do?

“I’m a hugger,” says pilot, Poul-Erik Binderup. “So that will be great!

But honestly, it’ll be nice to just be able to do a nice honest hand shake again. I’ve been missing that. There’s connection in a simple handshake, whether it’s a lifetime friend or someone you’ve just met.”

Physical Touch was number one on the list of ‘Things to Do Straight Outta Lockdown’, with hugs being number one across the board.

“I can’t wait to hug all the people

I haven’t been able to in nearly a year!” says Emma Christensen, who had a baby just as lockdown struck. “After that, take my daughter for a playdate so she can play with another baby!”

“Hug everyone I meet,” says Donna Morrell of York, England. Michaela Kuhlmann from Germany agrees. “Go to church and hug all the people I meet there!” Even in Europe, it appears a hug goes a long way.

The next most popular wish item is travel, and there are some very interesting, very personal reasons for that.

“I’d love to return to Los Angeles for school,” says concert violinist Gregory Lewis. “Being online resulted in moving back home to Thunder Bay, which is the case for many of my friends.”

“I can’t wait to travel to see my niece, whom I have yet to meet in person,” says Matt Cimone, who currently lives in Vancouver but was born in Thunder Bay. Conversely, Shannon Jacobsen was born in BC, but lives here in Thunder Bay.

“I’d fly to Vancouver and see my nieces,” she says. Travelling to meet/connect with family is a profound psychological need, and we’re all feeling the withdrawal pains. But for some, distance is more than a provincial blue line. For some, it’s a matter of worlds.

Swati Charda is an author and neurosurgeon who was visiting family in India when Covid struck. “I can’t wait to return home to Canada,” she says fondly. “To be with my husband in Calgary.”

“I just want to cross the border and kiss my fiancé,” says one American woman (who has asked to remain nameless). She is a culinary arts student from Texas who just got engaged to a resident of Thunder Bay. She was in the process of immigrating when the border closed to all but essential travel and is now currently waiting out the lockdown in Grand Marais.

Even for those that don’t have dramatic personal reasons for travel, there is clearly more than just ‘vacation-ville’ on the mind of Canadians. “I’d probably visit a travel agent and make some plans,” says Rick Clace. “People involved in the travel industry have been hit extremely hard.”

“Travel,” says Dina Anker, a former Thunder Bay resident who has made Toronto home. “I need a long 2 week decompress with anyone who wants to join!”

Connecting with Community was the third most desired thing on the list, with restaurants, clubs and social organizations mentioned for how much they were missed.

“I can’t wait to have a cosplay-build party with friends and newbies to help them out,” says Darren Cano, chair of the local chapter of the 501st Imperial Legion, a group that builds and wears costume replicas of favourite Star Wars characters. “I’ll also play adult D&D sessions with friends and lastly, volunteer for Thundercon 2022!”

“Go spend a long leisurely afternoon at a coffee shop writing,” says author Laini Giles.

“I think hanging out at a restaurant with friends or going to a concert/dance, etc,” says local artist Duncan Weller. “Then, I’m going to host an art show with a big opening.”
Teacher Joanne Himanen can’t wait for dinner at the Prospector, whereas Lisa Kokanie is itching to get back to El Tres. Pools, museums, their cousin’s house, ‘all the places they’ve been missing’ are on the list for Lisa Marie and her kids.

“GO BACK TO THE MOVIE THEATRE!!!!!!!!” TBay Movie Guy, Ryan Mackett, is adamant about his favourite community connector.

As for me, I can’t wait to scratch my travel itch, with plans for Costa Rica and Disneyworld in the works. And while I’m not a hugger, I think, after two years of social distancing, I might just give it a whirl.

Most people have a list of things they can’t wait to do, and for the most part, we’ve been pretty good at waiting. And from the looks of things, 2021 may be more of the same. But with experts agreeing that life may go back to some semblance of normal next winter, it looks like 2022 is going to be the Year the World Came Straight Outta Lockdown.

And it’s going to be a good one.

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at

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