Opinion | Are You Dreading a Return to ‘Normal’? You’re Not Alone.

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Video by Kirk Semple and Adam Westbrook

As the pandemic winds down in the United States, people are emerging from their cocoons, all fired up and ready to celebrate in a communal explosion of relief and pent-up desire. The sense of anticipation is so great that some, with lusty hope, have called the coming months “The Summer of Love.”

But in the Opinion video above, we explore how not everyone is feeling this way. Many people across the country are harboring a deep anxiety as the world around them kicks back into gear.

In the video, you will hear from some of these quieter voices. They explain that as much as they want the pandemic to end, it has also provided them with some relief from challenges, inequities and injuries that were all too common in their prepandemic lives.

Kirsten Imani Kasai, 50, a novelist in San Diego and self-described introvert, describes how she found comfort and safety in the relative quietude of the past year — and fears the return of a noisier, more-demanding world. Emily Ladau, 29, a disability rights activist in Long Island, N.Y., says she worries that the shift back to in-person interactions will force her, once again, to navigate environments that weren’t designed for the physically disabled.

And for Michael Reid, 67, a retired Episcopal priest and former professional dancer in Santa Fe, N.M., the shutdowns unexpectedly gave him sanctuary from everyday racist interactions.

As the nation reckons with the collective trauma of the pandemic, they suggest, we should find lessons in it that will help shape a better society for everyone.

Kirsten Imani Kasai (@KirstenIKasai) is a novelist. Emily Ladau (@emily_ladau) is a disability rights activist. Michael Reid is a retired Episcopal priest.

Kirk Semple (@KirkSemple) is a reporter and producer with Opinion Video.

Adam Westbrook is a producer with Opinion Video.

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