I laughed at my husband. We were out walking, each going our separate ways. He said, “I love you,” then leaned in and kissed me.

It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary … except we both had our masks on. It struck me as funny; such a sign of the times. And yet, our normal habits, as simple as a kiss goodbye, have changed drastically in just a few short months.

I’m in the process of starting the writing process for a new book. So I decided to ask my readers what they wanted. A simple survey asked one question – do you want to read new books about pre-pandemic or post-pandemic life? Overwhelmingly, they wanted pre-pandemic. They stated things like “I get enough real world from the news” and “I just want normal for a while”. This is about escapism, right?

Seventy percent said pre-pandemic, please. And even the thirty percent that said post-pandemic, most of them said “either” as long as the book had a happy ending.

I know my own reading habits follow that line of thinking. I, too, want escapism. I look for fiction that lets me get out of my head and relax for a bit. (Though I am reading some fairly heavy nonfiction, I do relax with a good story before I turn out the lights for the night.)

Still, as a writer, I often find myself thinking about life in the coming years.

Because we can work from home and handle all of our interactions via Zoom.

We can order takeout and pick it up to bring home.

We can social distance, keeping six feet apart, with masks securely in place.

But how do you find and grow love that way?

You don’t have to look very far to find examples of how this time period is putting a strain on relationships. A recent survey showed that over 339,000 marriages were postponed or canceled thanks to the pandemic.

Right in the middle of the pandemic last year, I wrote a story about love in the middle of staying in place. It was about two people who didn’t know each other very well, but thanks to staying in place orders, they suddenly had to rely on each other a little more. And eventually found love.

As a storyteller, I think love finds a way no matter what the circumstances.

I’m reading a memoir – The Choice by Dr Edith Eva Eger. She talks about her time living through the unthinkable in Auschwitz. Her message is one of hope. Because no matter what circumstances we face, we always have a choice.

We can choose to be happy or sad.

We can choose to look at the positive in a situation, or live in the negative.

We can find new ways to show our love, or forget about it altogether.

I guess I’m a person that always moves to hope. Love will find a way, no matter what.

So the next time I’m out with my husband, that “mask kiss” might just remind me that no matter what, we’ll get through this. Together.