Here are some of their stories, as told in their own words. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Her family realized they love being at home, so they are building a theater room
Dawn Moore-Johnson, 55 • Conyers, Georgia
We’re not going to be hermits in the house, but I think that there are still so many unknowns right now. Simply because I’ve gotten both vaccines doesn’t mean that I can just go out in public and act as if nothing ever happened.
Our family has expanded from just a single female to having married in September AND moved my 83-year-old mom in with us.
We went to a restaurant that we heard had good social distancing when I got a promotion. We get inside and I’m horrified because I’m looking around and these people don’t have on masks and I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with these people?” The servers had masks on, so we didn’t take ours off. We will keep going out to eat but eat outdoors or order takeout only.
The theater is totally out of the question for me. But at the drive-in theater, you kind of feel like you’re cocooned because you’re in your own vehicle with your own family. It’s important to be able to do things that you enjoy doing, but just be careful while doing that. I am enjoying being at home. We have invested money to finish a portion of our basement so that we have our own theater where we can watch movies at home.
We decided after we were vaccinated that we would go on a vacation. We will only drive for the foreseeable future — I don’t want to get on a plane. We chose Disney theme parks primarily because they are so stringent in their protocol. They are limiting tickets and you have to make reservations.
We focused on trying to better ourselves and our life while we were quarantined and still are. My husband is working on his doctorate. I’m working on my master’s. We were able to do that virtually.
I think there’s still so much that we have to learn. We don’t even know how long the vaccine is going to last. We don’t know what’s going to be happening in other parts of the world that can affect us. I think that certain things are going to be off limits for a while, unfortunately, at least for me.
She is happy doing things on her own, but misses her grandsons
Carla Glidewell, 72 • Indianapolis, Indiana
My normal is the same as it has been for the past 12 months. I use a mask, wash my hands and have had both vaccines. I will not be going out and about or visiting with family until my two young grandsons get their immunizations.
Being retired, I have never been doing a lot socially, like going dancing, going to bars or anything like that. I am a very happy person at home doing my gardening and my reading. I like jigsaw puzzles and paint by numbers.
I live in a wonderful neighborhood and we do all visit out on the front porch, weather permitting, with a mask on. So, it’s not like I have zero interaction. I walk my two puppies and visit with friends on the phone.
Before the pandemic, I took my grandsons to and from school every day. That ended last year in March. If you want to believe this, my daughter lives 12 miles from me, and I am not yet allowed to come over. My daughter is extremely cautious. I look forward to being with the boys again. I’ve missed a year of their life.
I’ve always played the Pollyanna game. When you’re 72, you’ve been through a lot, and I always try to find the good in whatever’s going on. My mother lived through World War II and that was for years, so I can do this.
He is afraid to walk into a grocery store, but the gym keeps him sane
Jermaine Williams, 35 • Dallas, Texas
As soon as I got vaccinated, I started doing little things like going to the gym. I CrossFit five times a week, and I’ve run almost daily, and I still wear my mask when I work out. That’s kind of taking big steps to get back to the new normal, but I am still afraid of going into a grocery store.
I worked at Whole Foods Market. But with the pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable with people being in my space or in my proximity. Some of the customers would take down their masks and speak at me — that just freaked me out. I had to resign because I was still afraid of walking in the store. Thankfully, I was able to get a job as a delivery driver.
During the pandemic, there were periods where I would not leave my apartment for almost a week or a week and a half. I have depression and generalized anxiety disorder manifested itself during the pandemic. With the help of therapy and psychiatry appointments, I was able to develop tools to better manage my anxiety and to develop some sort of a peace of mind.
For example, large gatherings are something that I will not be returning to. It’s because of the current climate with people choosing not to be vaccinated and they disclose that they refuse to be vaccinated. That makes me uncomfortable, and I know that I’m not in a position of asking if they’ve been vaccinated.
I enjoyed going to community events that serve the deaf and hard of hearing community. But with everything going on right now, it made me realize congregating may not be the same after the pandemic.
Am I ready to be maskless? Not anytime soon. For the first time in awhile, I am comfortable using the word ‘no’ if the situation for me is not ideal or safe.
She misses bartending, but she won’t be going back after the pandemic
Joanne van Veen, 49 • Vancouver, Washington
I’m not a barfly, but as a bartender, it’s so much fun. I get to flirt. I get to meet new people. I will really miss that. But now with the threat of a pandemic and serious illness, do I want to be around that many people? I usually get like a horrible cold every winter. For my health, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to it even if things got back to normal.
I don’t think I’ll be going out to eat as much. My cooking is better and it’s less expensive. No more music festivals or concerts, either. I don’t want to be crammed in with a bunch of people anymore. Why do I want to do that when I have a comfortable couch? Covid has made me antisocial, it’s crazy.
I actually had Covid in July. My daughter and I had it at the same time. It was enough to put the fear of God in me that something like this could happen. As things are opening up, emotionally I feel almost isolated from my friends. I don’t accept the invitations to go out to a bar or to go out to lunch even. I say, “Let’s take a walk instead.”
Walking around seeing people in masks is disheartening. I suffer from claustrophobia and anxiety, which got worse during the pandemic. I cannot have anything near my face, so when masks came out, I thought “I’m screwed.” I don’t like the world that I see when I go outside my house. Inside my house, I can shut it all out.
I don’t know if it’s just my age, but I feel like the whole pandemic thing changed me forever in a good way. As far as financially, I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that bartending would be a thing of the past, or that it was paused for a year and a half, to where you can’t interact with people. I’ll definitely be setting aside money for the future because you just never know what’s next.
She wishes people would get vaccinated so life wouldn’t have to be this way
Kimberly LoRusso, 46 • Northborough, Massachusetts
Honestly, I don’t trust other people to have done the right thing. And it seems like the simplest thing is to keep the distance and wear the masks and kind of keep my bubble small. It’s me, my husband and two teenagers — my son is asthmatic. My children have both had their first shot.
When we’re with our friends, we will widen the bubble a little bit. I have some close trusted friends that I haven’t seen in a long while, but I know that they’re vaccinated. I’m not up for concerts in the park. But I can definitely go to a couple of different friends’ backyards and have a barbecue there.
I think it’s crazy that they are loosening these restrictions so wildly. I don’t see myself giving up the mask in public for a long while. I know most people are eager to shed them, but I enjoy the protection it has given me from others. People are so gross. It amazes me. Recently, I saw a man take off his mask to sneeze in the supermarket, and then put it back on. I was standing in the aisle going, “What?” You’re supposed to keep them on.
I have become a little bit of a germaphobe. My children hate when the second they walk in the door, and I’m like, “Wash your hands, wash your hands.” I won’t let them sit on my bed in street clothes. I have them change because they’ve been out and exposed. I would love for everybody to get vaccinated so that I don’t have to be this way.
Editor’s note: The portraits in this story were taken remotely using a mobile app