Life inches back to normal in New York as it emerges from the worst of the coronavirus crisis, at least for now anyway.

I did something strange last night. I went out to dinner with my wife.

We sat outside our favorite Italian restaurant and pondered all that we had missed for the past three months.

The pandemic had hit Long Island hard and we were keenly looking forward to this day.

It was special. Just the feeling of being out and seeing the familiar faces of those who work in the restaurant, thankfully back working, made it special. We wondered again for the umpteenth time would we get the slow waitress, or the good one and many such trivial questions.

Read More: Study shows how physical distancing could affect pubs in Ireland

But some things have changed probably for the foreseeable future.

We wore masks, so did our waitress, as did everyone else toing and froing in this new world of outdoor space.

It is the little things you remember. Picking a nice glass of wine, ordering off a menu (in this case, made of paper and scrapped after diners have made their choice), giving yourself the reward of a nice dessert.

Then there's the social interaction, the passing parade, watching people arrive and depart, wondering sometimes who they were. 

We were also watching others who sat close to us as we checked out carefully for masks. Everyone we met and saw had them, though obviously they were lowered while eating.

Read More: Irish in America must battle to keep communities alive despite COVID-19

This is outdoor dining circa 2020, the year of the plague, the pandemic, however you wish to describe it.

Most of all, it was just great to be out, sharing a meal, after months of dining at home. Of the many rituals we perform as human beings, sitting down for a nice meal in (or outside) a restaurant is among the most pleasant.

The pandemic has made us understand how lightly we valued so many things before it struck, dining out certainly among them.

It is early days and who knows if there is a second wave to come but for one sunny evening in June it was a wonderful experience to feel part of the world again.

Read More: More than 40 percent of Dublin pubs plan to reopen as restaurants in June