After the pandemic

What Islanders are going to do when everything dies down.


The vaccines are being shipped, and we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And maybe, just maybe, the new normal will stop being normal, and we can get back to doing the things we used to love to do.

We asked people in the community about what they planned to do when the pandemic was over, and they told us many of the things we might expect to hear from people who will have been locked down for a year. They wanted to get out and do some traveling, some partying, and see a concert. But one thing that seemed to be at the top of many people’s list was a basic human gesture — a symbol of love and affection — the simple act of giving someone a hug.

Bow Van Riper of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum said it beautifully: “So, when it’s over (whatever that means) and we enter the new normal (whatever that involves), I’m going to find a quiet moment to reach out to someone I care about and hug them for what will seem, to anyone who happens to be watching, like an absurdly long time.” Here’s what else people can’t wait to return to.

Jamie Hamlin: owner, Jaime Hamlin and Sons Catering

The social fabric of our lives has been stretched thin, so (after the pandemic) I think it will be similar to the Roaring ’20s.

1, Shopping normally again. And PART-TAY! I will have all my friends over for cocktails, dinner, and dancing — CELEBRATE!

2, Hug, hold close, and kiss my dearest friends, they have been my lifeline during the pandemic. Then book tickets to Paris.


Judy Belushi Pisano: writer, producer, mother. Has uke, will travel.

Hugging! I anxiously await the day when we can once again embrace family and friends without trepidation. This March I faced a health crisis, and underwent major surgery and months of treatments. I thus have been isolating pretty seriously, which has meant, for much of the year, I have enjoyed very little by way of physical contact. Luckily, I have always had a family member or a friend staying with me (after quarantining), so I have not gone completely hugless. But all the same, the basic lack of human touch is a great emotional loss; there is really nothing that can replace the wonderful sense of comfort we get from a snuggle, a caress, a kiss. Likewise, I equally long for the metaphorical “group” hug — gathering socially. I cannot wait to bask in the once-taken-for-granted freedom to socialize!


Jim Feiner: principal broker-owner at Feiner Real Estate

When the pandemic is truly over, the first thing I want to do is gather all my friends and have a giant feast, cook heaps of great foods with exceptional cocktails, and share lots of smiles, laughs, and hugs. I miss seeing people’s faces and feeling the deeper connection I have with so many good people who contribute to making life dynamic and rich. This period, devoid of so much of that, has helped me see how much I value my friends.


India Rose: owner, Hustle and Thrive Business Consulting and Sideline Brand

What I miss most right now is hugs. Hugging people I haven’t seen in a while, when I am excited to see them or when I know they could really use one. It’s the simple social interactions for me. A hug can also make such a simple difference in someone’s life. You never know what other people are going through personally at any given moment, and sometimes a big hug and compassionate smile can do wonders for the soul. The pandemic has taken all of these wonderful and friendly hugs away from us.

After I am done hugging everyone, I am going out dancing with friends! I am ready to hear some good music up and down Circuit Avenue at some of my favorite spots. I’m not as young as I used to be, so I’ll need ample recovery time after all of the maskless fun!


James Anthony: president and CEO, Martha’s Vineyard Bank 

I plan to sit on a beach, without a mask, and reflect on what we learned during the pandemic, and in 2020 in general, and carry the best forward. While it has been a challenging year, I am humbled by our community’s strength and resilience. We have a lot to be thankful for, and I do believe some good will come out of everything we have overcome.


Angela Prout: co-owner, Shored Up Digital, and owner, Coast to Coast Cuts

I’m most excited to give hugs. Deep, serious hugs that will bring tears of joy to my eyes. I actually daydream about giving hugs … I also plan on traveling far and wide. And possibly living abroad for six months or something. I will say yes to everything (well, most things), and the world will be my oyster!


Gavin Smith: owner, Food Minded Fellow

Gathering. I can’t wait to be surrounded by good friends enjoying great food together.


Nevette Previd: founder, Farm. Field. Sea.

I’m most looking forward to hosting a dinner party with new and old friends. Nothing brings me more joy than eating local-harvested, -foraged, and -found food around a shared table with the ones I love.


Poliana Bellan Wilson: parish life coordinator and social media coordinator, St. Andrews Church

When it is safe, I really want to be able to hug people! Those long-lasting hugs! I miss that a lot!


Adam Wilson: renewable energy consultant

I want to be able to go back to the gym and run on the treadmill — with no mask!


Terre Young: board member, Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group
What will I do when COVID is over? Where to start? I will join my friends of the Sail MV Rowing Club, and get back in Cassie and be on the water with the crew again. Oh, the exercise is needed! I will clean up my greenhouse and start having dinner parties, inviting friends, 10 at a time, to bring their favorite dishes and stories to share. I will not hesitate to drop in on friends when I drive by their homes. I will keep some of my many board and committee meetings on Zoom and others, and bring everyone to the table. I will keep praying for the many of our country and world who have lost loved ones to this virus, and be ever so grateful for my good health as well as my family’s, and I hope for sure that when this is really over, that we have managed to not contract it. I hope we all can bring with us, into the new, all the good and positive changes we have made because of the pandemic. I have been pretty successful at recognizing folks behind their masks, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s whole and smiling face!


Bow Van Riper: research librarian, Martha’s Vineyard Museum

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m in good health, with no chronic conditions that would make COVID hit harder than it already does. My access to food and housing is not precarious. I work at a job that I can do from home if necessary, for an organization whose first priority is to “keep the team together.”

My kids are living their own lives in other places, healthy and embedded in their own support networks. My father has been gone for nearly two decades, my mother for a bit over two years. I am responsible, day-to-day, only for myself and an aging, inherited cat.

I’m an only child, and in the way of only children, comfortable with solitude and the company of my own thoughts. My house is filled with books, music, and films. The Island offers infinite opportunities to walk alone, but the faces and voices of loved ones are only keystrokes away.

I’m one of the lucky ones, and the things the pandemic has taken from my day-to-day life are inconsequential. All, that is, but one.

I have not touched another human being in nine months.

The new rituals of public interactions are now second nature. We greet each other with upraised hands, take the receipt from the cashier’s pinched fingers with our own pinched fingers, and gracefully backpedal (no longer even thinking about it) to remain socially distant from others. We have, out of necessity, removed touch from our public encounters with our fellow humans.

It’s said that a person can live for three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. The human need for physical contact — for the touch of other humans — is less urgent, but it exists. It is commonplace enough, in fact, that psychologists have a phrase for the feeling that develops when it’s not met: “skin hunger.”

Hugging family members or cuddling with a romantic partner keeps skin hunger at bay. So, it turns out, do the casual, small-change touches that used to be part of our daily lives — the ones we barely noticed and rarely thought about. The old saying about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone? That’s been me, in the pandemic.

So, when it’s over (whatever that means) and we enter the new normal (whatever that involves), I’m going to find a quiet moment to reach out to someone I care about and hug them for what will seem, to anyone who happens to be watching, like an absurdly long time.

Who that is — family member, colleague, old lover, dear friend — will depend on circumstances. Regardless of their identity, though, it’ll be one of those hugs that makes the rest of the world dissolve into a blur, and the connection between the two people involved feel like the most important thing in the world … because, in that moment, it will be.


Alexandra Pratt: director, West Tisbury library

The list of what I am looking forward to and what I want to do is a long one for sure.

First, I am going to hug all my friends so tight!

As far as the library goes, I am going to attend every single live program possible, once it is safe to meet in person again. I can’t wait for community lunches, where we all sit and eat and talk together. I can’t wait for community dance classes, poetry readings, book talks, and especially live music. I can’t wait to hold an in-person storytime, and the school-age kids hanging out after school. I can’t wait to talk to people about their favorite books, close up and personal, and to see their smiles!

Outside of the library, I am going to never take for granted all the little things to do on our Island. I can’t wait to meet friends for coffee at Mocha Mott’s or Behind the Bookstore and linger there, reading and talking for hours. I can’t wait for future Barnraisers Balls, with people of all ages dancing together. I am going to go to the fair all four days, and eat as many corn dogs and as much tempura as I can. I look forward to a trip abroad, and coming home with even more love and appreciation for this Island and community.

Happy holidays, and stay well!


PJ Finn, general manager, WMVY Radio

The thing I’m most looking forward to doing once the pandemic is over is seeing large, live concerts again.

Folks have been really creative during COVID, with online shows and small, socially distanced gatherings. But I miss the large venues, the festival scenes, the big groups of people singing along in unison. The collective experience.

This is definitely the longest I’ve gone in my adult life without seeing a live show, and I can’t wait to get back in the crowd.

The economic impact of the pandemic has been really tough on both musicians and venues. Loads of great venues have closed, and lots of independent and emerging musicians have lost any forward momentum they had in their careers and their output. So just for the health and welfare of our creative class, I can’t wait to see things open up again.


Gerald Yukevich: physician

I certainly will not be checking into Mar-a-Lago for a golf vacation.