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I talked to people and invited them to board the time machine to a coronavirus-free future. What will they do for themselves and their families?

Marlena, aged 36: I wish I could see my parents

I’ve lived and worked in Tri-City for years. My home, where my parents live with two dogs and a cat, is over 200 kilometres away. I try to visit them at least once a month. My mum and I often talk on the phone. I’m home for every holiday and family celebration.

This year was the first time I didn’t come home for Easter – firstly, because everyone was advising that people stay where they are, and secondly, because I was afraid that I might put my parents in danger. I spent Easter with my boyfriend and I called my mum to ask how to make onion-dyed Easter eggs and white sausage.

I have a lot of plans for the time after the pandemic, some smaller, some bigger – going to Italy, going to the pool, going to a concert, having a birthday party, which due to the epidemic couldn’t take place, going for some Prosecco with friends at my favourite restaurant, starting singing lessons. But first of all I would like to visit my parents.

We haven’t seen each other in three months. I miss them.

Iza, aged 43: I have dreams for now and for after

Now I’m getting a “C” and an “E” driving licence, and then I’m going to get a “D” licence as well. During the pandemic I was diagnosed with cancer. I had my first surgery four weeks ago. On Monday, I’m having more, in Gdynia. After I became sick, I finished my accounting course and I passed my final exams yesterday. So you can have plans both for now and for after the pandemic, even if you are fighting cancer.

I have a granddaughter and my dream is to watch her grow up in a good world.

She’ll be running barefoot on the grass and she’ll see people smile... Nowadays we can’t see it, because everyone is wearing masks.

Rafał, aged 49: My friends are my family

I was supposed to go to Istanbul in May. I’d been planning this trip for two years. I’d already bought tickets and booked a hotel when the pandemic broke out and the borders were closed. The airline postponed the flight until September but there is no guarantee that the flights will have been allowed by then. I don’t think I’ll go until spring.

At first I was pissed, now I just shrug my shoulders – it is what it is and we can’t do anything about it. Now I’m thinking about what I will do in Istanbul, when I finally set foot on the warm airport tarmac – I’ll be resting, as there’s no better place for that than Istanbul, I’ll be wandering around the city, taking pictures in the back alleys, meeting many friends of mine who live there and who are like family to me. And I’ll be eating my favourite Turkish dessert – kanafeh, which is a traditional cheesecake. I’m tired, I’m looking forward to this trip.

Agnieszka, aged 38: My husband and I are going to arrange Portugal in Puck.

Plans for after the pandemic? Becoming a famous writer, living in a cabin by the ocean and giving the speech of a lifetime in Ergo Arena. And now for real… COVID has really messed up my life. When I finally started to realise my dream and started studying at the Polish Reportage School, which in my opinion was going to lead me to a writer’s fame, after two sessions it rumbled, shook up and closed down.

I had waited for this school for ten years, and when I was finally able to afford it, they were like peace out, sorry, babe, this ain’t the right time. The classes might restart in September. So I’m thinking: Screw that shit, I’ll write a children’s book now. So I am.

I didn’t get a chance to give the speech of my life either. And I was supposed to go to Szczecin in April, telling people that instead of struggling with muscle pains they can try self-massage. It wouldn’t be the same as speaking in Ergo Arena, but it was just as important to me. I’ll stand my ground. Now I’m reading a book entitled “TED. How to deliver the speech of your life” and I’m taking notes from my life so that when all this is over, I will be a little less intimidated and I will actually give a proper speech to the nation somewhere, even if ‘the nation’ numbers several people.

And the cabin by the ocean? It’s been my dream ever since I started watching “Baywatch”. This year I got close to that, because my fiancé and I were going to Portugal for our honeymoon.

And frankly, it’s the only thing I’d really like to do when this is over. Go to the ocean with him, expose fresh wedding rings to the sun and lie on warm sand without a mask on my face. Now I’m not even sure they won’t make me wear it at the civil registry office. I’ve already said I won’t be having that! It’s enough that I probably can’t wear unicorn trousers instead of a cocktail dress to my wedding, which I’d love to do – no one will make me wear a face mask when I say yes to the rest of my weird life.

And I even have a quick fix for closed borders. We’ll arrange our own Portugal in our house in Puck. We’re going to lie in a hot tub, eat fruit salads, drink Portuguese wine and do everything that newly-weds do. For a while, it will be as if nothing bad has ever happened.

Dear virus, once you have kindly gone to heaven, I swear I will bring you a tan from the Portuguese beaches, graduate from the Reportage School and deliver not one, but a couple of inspiring speeches.

Noemi, aged 20: I will love myself in order to love others

The pandemic has perfectly fitted into the storm in my life, in which simply everything has changed. This coronavirus hurricane may have caged my body up at home, but it sure hasn’t caged up my spirit. Far from it! It has freed this spirit. It has made me start meditating, looking for answers to questions about the meaning of life. Loneliness is a difficult test, but it’s also a chance to get to know yourself. To give yourself a gift of love. And through this, to love others, especially those closest to you.

So when it comes to plans for after it’s over, I will certainly carry on with these practices for longer, perhaps forever.

“Tenderness and freedom. Let's build balanced relationships” is a campaign run by Kulczyk Foundation along with “Wysokie Obcasy” and “Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation”.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

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