Luis López Levi (NAJ 2020) is a former arts reporter, avid podcast listener, vinyl enthusiast, and lover of folk music. He never turns down free chips and guacamole.
Illustration by Raven Mo
Some of us wish to take that trip we had been eagerly awaiting for weeks. Some of us want to be able to walk outside in peace, free of the fear of touching surfaces or getting too close to fellow pedestrians. Some of us want to enjoy grocery shopping again, go back to our favorite coffee shops, get a drink with our friends. And some of us want to feel the wind on our faces.
We each want to do different things when we’re finally allowed to go back outside and suspend social distancing. But we are together in our equal desire to do those things, in missing them deeply, and in appreciating them anew once we’re allowed to bring them back into our refound routines.
For this special episode of F Newsmagazine’s podcast SAIC Beat, staff writer and podcast co-producer Luis López Levi asks members of the SAIC community one question: What is the first thing you want to do when the quarantine is lifted and we resume our daily lives? Set to original music by Luis, these answers form a sonic collage of the moments that build and define our days. They aspire to be a celebration of hope.
Luis: For F Newsmagazine, I’m Luis López, and this is Refound Routines, a special episode of SAIC Beat.
Jiwon: If the weather is sunny and warm, I want to go to Grant Park. I just want to be outside as much as I can.
Angelica: Meet friends, and then eat out with friends, uh, hug people. I just want to be able to, you know, meet them in person.
Zainab: I mean it's so warm, it's so sunny outside and then spring, and I seriously wanted to be out in the spring because winter is, like, so harsh.
Margaret: The first thing I want to do is to go to Ravinia, which is a music park north of the city. We would pack up a picnic and some blankets and folding chairs and a lot of wine, and go over there on a night when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra would be playing. And I would hate to, to miss it this summer.
Stephanie: I think I'm going to go on a Divvy and I'm going to bike all the way downtown. I'm going to take a ballet class, and I'm going to spend the rest of the day at North Avenue Beach.
Georgia: I just keep thinking about going to the Logan Square Farmer's Market in the summer, and everyone's there. They usually have a four-piece bluegrass band that plays there, and just walking around, like, families with strollers getting stuck in the wood chips, and smelling the smells of pizza and pierogis and being in a space where everyone is just able to be there together.
Megan: So the thing I'm looking forward to most after this is over is having a dinner with friends, just a simple gathering with wine and food. Somehow the little things like getting together feel the most special to me now.
Jill: I'd like to go to the grocery store — yeah, I think just doing the simple things. It's just going to change the way I interact with daily tasks, I think.
Constanza: Now I only walk to go to, like, grocery shopping, or because I need to, like, buy specifically something in the pharmacy, so I already know where I'm gonna go. Now I'm not even, like, taking my time to listen to the sounds of the streets or the people around, or just seeing what's happening next to me. So I, I think I miss that. I miss the fact of walking as a way of meditating.
Dustin: There's a bar in Logan Square called The Heavy Feather. It is on Milwaukee, it's got this, like, funky 70s decor. There's a stuffed bear on the wall, there's these, like, weird sort of rhomboid mirrors. It just feels like one of those retro, nostalgia places. I've had probably more fun nights there than anywhere else in Chicago.
Carmen: Perhaps drink. I haven't drank in like three months, so I think maybe surviving a pandemic would be a good reason enough to do that. It's like you just want to go and perrear, and drink and smoke and make out with strangers because you can do that.
Timmy: I kind of miss people. [Laughs]. You know, you know when someone's speaking to you, you can kind of feel the vocal vibrations in your body? I miss that, you know what I mean? Like, when someone's talking and you can really, you're literally vibrating together to a similar frequency, you're like talking to each other in this, like, conversation that you can't, you can't get that similar vibration from an iPad or an iPhone, you know?
Percy: The first thing that I wanted to do is get back to the regular, normal routine of school life, but which I realized, even though I wish to go back to school to see all my friends and classmates and colleagues, I don't know if we could see each other again, since everyone's situation is different. So I imagine there might be a chance that we might not be able to see each other again, which makes me so sad.
Kaitlin: With the quarantine I've been talking a lot more so with my dad. And I, we've been having a lot more deep conversations, and I remember specifically he had like, "Once this is all over, you're gonna come here back to North Dakota, when the trains are all running," and I'm gonna sit on my porch in North Dakota, and we're going to have a glass of wine in the antique wine glasses we inherited from my grandmother.
Olivia: The most exciting thing about all of this ending is to be able to do things with other people. I asked my boyfriend what he wants to do as soon as all this ends, and he was like, "Just go out to eat, sit at a restaurant," like, a restaurant that you could order from now, but it wouldn't be the same experience as going and sitting and enjoying the ambiance.
Leo: I think I'm gonna start going contra dancing again. This is this, like, weird East Coast community kind of bluegrass dancing tradition. No one's really ever heard of it. But when I was in high school we would go once a week to this, like, town hall. And it's all these, like, older people, and, like, younger hippies, and, like, a lot of tie-dye and people wearing peasant skirts, and everyone's kind of sweaty, and everyone's just having a really good time.
Sofía: Well, Mexico hadn't changed to Daylight Savings Time, it changes actually a month after Chicago, so my family decided that they were not going to switch to Daylight Savings Time because we were not going to be social anyway, so that's the first thing I'm going to do once this is all over. I'm gonna lose an extra hour, but in my mind I thought it this way: I already lost an hour in Chicago. Why would I willingly want to lose another hour here?
Jesse: Just a little bit over a month ago, I got a tattoo on my hand, which was, like, the timing of that was horrifying and terrible for the time we're in right now, where you have to wash your hands every thirty seconds, so this has been like a very interesting tattoo healing period for me over this past, like, month and a half. And so the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go get my hand tattoo cleaned up.
Raksha: I want to go back and do some open mics, because honestly, like, you know, the theater and the comedy community has been affected a lot by this. So I don't know, I just want to go to a place and, um, get something to drink and then, um, also perform, because there've been a lot of virtual open mics, and I think for everyone the first virtual open mic was this like, "Oh my God, is this how I look on video?"
Ryo: I mean, assuming that, uh, everything gets back to the way it used to be, then I have a plan to shoot a video at a barber school, of those barber students, doing haircuts and shaving to each other. So that, yeah, that's a thing that I really wanted to do right away.
Meejung: I want to learn contemporary dance. I did not go outside more than three weeks, and I feel I need exercise, yeah, I had learned ballet in Korea, but I have never learned contemporary dance before, and yeah, dance seems to be good for health and posture correction, and it is fun, I think.
Darshita: I think I really want to eat, um, pani puri that you get on the streets of India. So like, what I'm craving is, um, that informality and, like, this connection that you have with a stall that you regularly visit, and they know exactly the amount of spice to put in your food, like, you know? So I don't when that's going to happen.
Amélie: Surfing is so hard because you have to go through the, you know, the waves, and then you have to wait for the wave, but the first time I stood up on the board, it's like walking on the water. It's just the feeling, it's a short feeling that makes it, it's so worth it to, you know, stay in the water for three hours and fight with the element, but I have this feeling for, since, since I did it I just want to get back on the water and try it again.
Shawné: The first thing I would want to do after the quarantine ends is not go back to places that make me feel meh, if that makes any sense. [Chuckles] I do a lot of the same things all of the time, um, because I like routine and it makes me feel good, but I also notice when I'm doing things just for the sake of routine, and now being faced with things, I would go ahead and, um, just do more things that I know that I want versus things that I think I should do. I didn't take things for granted. It's just, actually there's more.
Luis: This episode of SAIC Beat was produced and edited by me, Luis López. Original music by me.
Thank you to Jiwon, Angelica, Zainab, Margaret, Stephanie, Georgia, Megan, Jill, Constanza, Dustin, Carmen, Timmy, Percy, Kaitlin, Olivia, Leo, Sofía, Jesse, Raksha, Ryo, Meejung, Darshita, Amélie, and shawné, for sharing your voices with me. Once the quarantine is lifted I want to hug each and every one of you.
This has been a special, from-home edition of SAIC Beat. Thank you for listening, and take care.