Being outdoors, working from home, ditching bras: What listeners want to keep from the pandemic

Today California has lifted social distancing requirements and capacity limits, and fully vaccinated residents can stop wearing masks in most places. But some people are apprehensive about the changes. Some pandemic-era adjustments, like working from home or having more free time, were celebrated.

KCRW’s Press Play asked audience members to share one habit they’ve picked up in the past year that they hope to keep. More than 120 responses flooded our voicemail, email inbox, and social media direct messages.

“Where I might be concerned about what suit I'm going to wear to work, I don’t care about that anymore. … Now I can spend more time feeling relaxed, being outdoors, talking to my children who just went away to college this year,” says Ann van Winkle, who lives near Century City. 

Del Rey resident Joslyn Treece says she hasn’t felt the pressure to hide or push through trauma or personal hardship. She says she hopes she can continue to be vulnerable with her friends and community.

“My neighbor and I would chat, sidebar conversations over the fence almost every day, and some days it was like how are you doing? Well, today really sucks. Everybody's down over here, how’s everyone over there?” she says. “We go through life sometimes putting a good face on things … but I feel like this had a leveling effect where suddenly everyone knew, it didn’t matter your circumstances, you were affected by this.”

Joslyn Treece says her neighbors were more likely to participate in community projects during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Joslyn Treece.

The most popular desire was to continue our diligent cleanliness. More than 40 people said they either want to keep wearing masks, sanitizing hands, or avoiding contact with dirty or germ-infested surfaces.

More than 30 people are happy that their lives “slowed down,” since it allowed them to spend more time with family, exercising, gardening, reading or playing an instrument.

Another 20 people specifically want to keep the alone time they picked up during the pandemic. They said they want to socialize less than they did pre-pandemic, and avoid mounting pressure to pack their weekends with activities. 

One of them is Kristina Fukuda, who started writing letters to her friends in Boston, Montana, South Carolina and the San Fernando Valley. “A letter allows me to do things like clip a cool magazine article and send it along with. And it allows me to think out what I want to say,” she says. “I like getting mail and I figured if I want to get mail, I have to send mail so I started writing letters, and I’ve enjoyed seeing friends write back,” she says.

Kristina Fukuda started writing letters to her friends across the country. Photo courtesy of Kristina Fukuda.

Multiple people want to continue working from home, or getting their groceries delivered. Some other honorable mentions include having small dinner parties, painting nails, and ditching bras.

Irina Azarova says she hopes people’s resilience and creativity continue. She’s a nurse who contracted COVID-19 and had a long and difficult recovery. “We humans [are] really miracles,” she says. 

Azarova ended up writing her first book of poetry, which came out in August 2020. Then she wrote another 12 poems and nine songs reflecting on pandemic lives, struggles and hopes.”

Irina Azarova wrote her first book of poetry during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Irina Azarova.

Another woman who called into the station identified herself as Tanya from Long Beach. She said she hopes others have benefited from the past year as much as she has: “The one thing that I will take with me from this pandemic is my confidence in myself, my belief in myself, and my faith that I will be okay. Because that is the one thing that was missing before and the experiences that I've had, I have learned so much, and I'm so excited, so excited for the future.”

By Caleigh Wells, Danielle Chiriguayo, Andrea Bautistia, Brian Hardzinski, Michell Eloy, Sarah Sweeney, Amy Ta