Everyone’s still so scared of COVID. But come on, people. It’s going to be endemic soon enough. And that has to mean, uh, something.

Endemic means freedom, more or less. Sometimes more, but occasionally less. They say less is more, and that’ll be the case here. Except when more’s less.

It means no more putting on a mask. Also, no more taking it off. You’ll never have to remember to bring one because you’ll never be able to forget.

Endemic means no more shots. Okay, well, not no more. But like on a regular schedule, when your doctor tells you. It won’t be every few months; it’ll be, at most, three or four times a year (five in a leap year).

It means regular school. With, of course, restrictions regularly in place. But they won’t be that strict. Just regular ol’ strict, applied regularly. And strictly.

It means dining indoors. If you thought all this time that the virus couldn’t get you as long as you were sitting and eating, then you’re in luck. Once things are endemic, you’ll be proven to be just as right and as wrong as you were all along.

Endemic means “completely and utterly gone”—is what I might say if I didn’t know what endemic meant and you just didn’t give me that weird look. Which I do and you did, so, um, yeah—we’re good to move on, both of us totally knowing what the word means.

It means less blurring of the line between work and home. Your house will go back to being a place that just happens to have a desk and computer and a spouse who nags you for typing too loudly. Your office will be the place that happens to have a bed and dresser and named partner who nags you for chewing too loudly.

Endemic means no more testing. Or it means a lot more testing. Do you know the answer? I, of course, know. I’m just testing you.

Endemic means getting together with friends. Wait, sorry, forgot my punctuation—it means getting together with Friends. Or Seinfeld. But not Caroline In The City, which doesn’t seem to be streaming. And also not your friend Caroline in your own city, as Caroline’s immunocompromised and even endemic cities are COVID dens.

It means traveling the world. Germany. China. Mexico. Whatever other countries are at EPCOT.

Endemic means a return to crowded places. Like theaters. And then hospitals. Plus stadiums. And then hospitals. And arenas. Followed by hospitals. Very crowded hospitals.

It means no more supply chain issues. And no more inflation. And no more having to pretend your mask makes you unable to talk so you don’t intimidate others with just how much you absolutely know what all of those terms mean too.

It means seeing grandma. At her memorial service, sure. But, you know, also other places. Because endemic means “I see you.” And also ICU.

It means not quarantining for ten days. As for the other three hundred fifty-five days, who’s to say? But for ten days, you should be good. Except if you’re not because you have COVID. Which will be endemic, so be careful.

It means not only putting a period on COVID, but also an asterisk.

It means the dawn of a new day, in that you’ll be groggy and in your pajamas and likely hungover.

It means closing time for COVID, but specifically the part of the song that goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Sure, we won’t be able to do everything because endemic doesn’t mean freedom. Yes, I know I said it did, but endemic means the freedom to change my mind—if that’s okay with you. If not, I’m not sorry since endemic means never having to say you’re sorry.

The bottom line is we’re all going to die.

The real bottom line is that far fewer of us will die as quickly once things are endemic. Though far more of us will die even more slowly. On the inside.