For the last 15 months, we have all be yearning for a time when things would return to normal. A time when we could go back to being with our friends instead of building forts out of cases of Red Bull alone. Before you ask, yes, that is 20 cases of the energy drink that I used to create a fort in the corner of my office when I got bored and needed a break from work and writing.

Pre-pandemic, it was normal to work a full day, then go to the gym, maybe a fundraiser or meet friends for drinks afterwards, and when I got home there were still chores to do. Around midnight or 1 a.m. head to bed, only to do it all over again the next day. Sure, we might occasionally be tired, but it wasn’t anything crazy. In fact, one of my favorite lines when people commented on how hectic my schedule was, I would respond that I was simply busy and important. (Busy, definitely; important, debatable)

With vaccines becoming more plentiful, the invites and reservations are starting to come in. I just got my first e-mail invitation to a press screening for a movie. In fact, I am actually guilty of jumping on the bandwagon myself. Last weekend, I had a few friends over for fondue. It was a small party of fully vaccinated adults enjoying melted cheese. Because I am neurotic, I spent part of my therapy session discussing how to make it COVID safe – which resulted in me buying 300 bamboo skewers. In my defense, though, the package said 100 skewers, but it didn’t look like it actually had that many. Even the cashier started to count the skewers in the package.

Anyone who has made fondue knows that it’s pretty simple to make. But it ended up being exhausting. I mean, the company was good, and I think that everyone enjoyed themselves. Still, I ended up lounging around in bed for the entire next day. I think the only time I got out was to go grocery shopping with the promise of getting myself some chicken fingers as a reward.

How did we do it before? Seriously, just thinking about it makes me exhausted.

COVID has changed me. 15 months locked inside, alone with just me and my drum set, has changed what I want to do when fraternizing. Pre-COVID, I was constantly doing something most nights of the week. The idea of standing around in a bar for hours and paying $15 per drink isn’t as appealing anymore. In Philly, most bars are serving to-go cocktails. So, many people will get a drink and then hang out near the bar on the sidewalk or nearby side street since you couldn’t hang out inside. My friends were horrified when I rolled up with a bag full of mini bottles of champagne to drink instead of going in to patronize the bar. I spent a total of $17 that night versus the usual $40-$60 I would spend on an average night out.

Maybe this is just a reflex to being home for so long and it will eventually fade away. With time, maybe things will go back to normal and I will yearn to have a crowded schedule again. In the meantime, I would rather do something with my time and money. Want to drink? Let’s go to a driving range and hit some golf balls in between drinks. Want to watch a movie? Let’s have a viewing party. I don’t want to just sit around and drink.

I know many people are looking to make this summer a hot girl summer. Me? I am looking forward to naps, face masks, and being in bed before midnight even on weekends.

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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