Oh, to Be Released from COVID Captivity

Santa Barbarans Cheer a Return to Normal

Credit: Celina Garcia

There’s a certain lightness in the air, and it feels like hope. As the vaccine has rolled out more and more widely, those who’ve gotten the shot in the arm can venture to speak and laugh more easily with friends and strangers. We’ve come a long way in the past year.

“What will you do when released from COVID captivity?” we asked our readers, and they replied with stories of joy delayed, future plans aplenty, and images of their last get-together. What a relief to be able to look forward again.

It’s a new world — likely to still be a masked and careful one — but we’ve never been so happy to celebrate “normal”!

Ana Papakhian

Elliot Wuu by Phil Channing

It felt weird to start crying in the CVS makeup aisle, but the relief and joy after getting the vaccine couldn’t be held back! As the pandemic wore on, our family was so tired of cooking and cleaning that we invented “Fend for Yourself Night,” where you only have to figure out something to eat for dinner and not have to cook for the whole gang.

I work at Music Academy of the West, and on March 10, 2020, the Solo Piano Competition Winner Elliot Wuu gave a recital. About half the audience we anticipated showed up, as we were near lockdown. I had no idea that would be my last live concert for over a year. Once this is over, it will be so great to go to a live concert, opera, ballet, play, lecture, or anything cultural again in person! 

Dominique Smith

Credit: Courtesy

The first thing my husband and I are doing now that we are vaccinated is the last one we did before the shutdown. We were on a trip to Costa Rica in March 2020, blissfully unaware of what was ahead. We’d had a wonderful trip in a spectacular country, with beautiful national parks and beaches, fun activities, good food, and very nice people — and came back home a couple of days before flights were canceled and airports closed.

What better way to close this difficult time, now that we have gotten our vaccines, than to go back to Costa Rica to visit our grandchildren (and great-grands). Planning our trip did wonders for my gypsy soul. The hope of exploring the world again is what kept me sane during the dark months of 2020. My introvert husband supported Chaucer’s all by himself!

Getting the shot reopened so many possibilities; most important was feeling the anxiety of the past year start to diminish. Sometimes I think I want to forget 2020 ever happened, for it’s been frustrating, often painful, and hard on everyone. But it’s taught me a lot: about myself, my family and friends, our country, and the world. So maybe it served at least some purpose?

Warner Anderson

Credit: Courtesy

Our friend Misty’s wedding at the Rosewood Miramar has stuck with me throughout the pandemic, as it was one of the last times we were able to get together with a large group of our close friends. A three-person New Year’s Eve party was definitely a break from the norm, but we made it work!

I got the vaccine more for my family, friends, and community than myself, because I want to be a part of the solution of getting us back to whatever was considered normal. But once that happens, I want to travel somewhere far away and then throw in a music festival on top of that.

Celina Garcia

Credit: Courtesy

Just a few short months before the pandemic lockdown, my brother moved to Louisville. There are many places I’d rather travel once it’s safe to do so, but I haven’t seen him in over a year and a half! I’m so relieved my family and I have been able to get vaccinated. I’m one step closer to being able to actually embrace them. I’m Latinx — we’re very affectionate.

Before the pandemic changed everything, my college bestie had recently moved back to S.B. We went out on the town and ate bomb food and drank fancy cocktails at Cubaneo and then went and played games at The Cruisery. Somebody had a very adorable puppy I couldn’t stop petting despite everyone telling me to leave the poor dog owner alone, although he didn’t seem to mind.

Karen S. Lytle

Karen Lytle (left) and Brandi Redman | Credit: Courtesy

By taking the vaccine, I’m helping the community stop the variants and protecting myself from COVID (cancer treatment reduces immunity). I’m going to my uncle’s 100th in Virginia and seeing my family once I can! Hugging will be sooo nice to do again!

I’m so looking forward to playing with my band for an audience and being with live music, but I’ve been jamming with friends outdoors rather than in my studio. Our last singer showcase was on February 8, 2020. I love producing at SOhO, which is now closed — but I have a live, no-audience recorded showcase I hope to air soon to raise $ for SOhO. The photo here was an event to support my favorite venue, the Lobero Theatre. Miss that!

Amanda Maffett

Credit: Courtesy

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Cottage and my employment at UCSB, I am now fully vaccinated — huzzah! I feel safer in my daily life and protected from serious illness or death due to COVID. I also wanted to protect the people near me, whether it’s strangers at my local Dune Coffee shop or elderly folks out walking their dog. I want to protect my community as well as my loved ones.

Last year was my first time not visiting my family for Christmas, so my husband and I celebrated at home together. I cooked a whole Christmas feast as a distraction, and I realized what a pain the holiday cooking has been for my mom over the years. I look forward to eating her cooking this Christmas.

In February 2020, I celebrated my niece’s 8th birthday with a fun hotel sleepover. 

Toni Wellen

Credit: Courtesy

We are “older folks” and have serious health issues. We were anxious to get the vaccine and hope everyone will eventually be vaccinated.

Normal means being able to have family and friends exchange visits, share meals, and celebrate events. We were able to celebrate birthdays and Thanksgiving virtually with lots of planning.

The second normal thing will be to have the house cleaner return and have all the windows washed!

Payge Bellini

Credit: Courtesy

To be “normal” is to go to a concert! Obviously, that will have to wait ’til more people are vaccinated, but that is what I miss the most. And my Grammy’s hugs! I can’t wait to get the vaccine so that I can be a part of the solution to keeping people healthy and ending this chaos. I’m the cautious one in my family, and we’ve just been doing the immediate-family-only, outdoors kind of holiday and making sure people were safe.

My fiancé and I canceled our wedding and decided to elope in October. We realized that big fancy gatherings aren’t our style, and we will likely keep a small, close-knit circle even after COVID. But the last thing I did before the shutdown was go wedding-dress shopping in San Luis Obispo with my mom, Grammy, and girlfriends, followed by a hotel stay and girls’ night sleepover party. We didn’t yet know the severity of the virus back in March.


‘Hockey Greg’:  Honestly, just sit around a fire with friends. Been working this whole time anyway, so taking the mask off will be nice.


@darlabea:  DJ Weddings! 🎧💕🎶

@bodhibee:  Sing with my band.

@ojaijelly:  #spreadmywings I mean JAM…

@susanblanchard:  Bowling at Zodo’s with my dad!

@liv__inthedream:  I was never in captivity! I did my homework instead ✌👌

@bellaterra.realestate:  Spend time with family and friends and TRAVEL! 🌸

@powerofyourom:  Host a prom dance party

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.