Once upon a time, in a world long gone, people lived in a land called Westport.

Each family had its own home. They were large homes, with many rooms. Parents lived in a “master suite,” far removed from their children. Every child had his or her own room, with private bathrooms and even sitting rooms. There were cathedral ceilings, enormous kitchens with the most modern appliances, giant rooms with giant entertainment centers, and much more. Some rooms had no names, and no one ever used them, but they were important because, well, just because.

Out back, there was plenty of space. Multi-level decks led down to beautifully manicured swimming pools. Large treehouses and swing sets and other playthings graced the lawns too, though they were seldom used. There were trees and flowers and gardens, all tended by men from other towns who swooped in regularly to cut the grass, pull the weeds and blow the leaves.

In the garages sat three, sometimes even four, expensive automobiles. Some were tall and wide, with many doors and seats. Others were low to the ground, and very fleet. A few could be plugged in, but most were gasoline powered. These automobiles were used constantly, even for tasks as trivial as picking the children up from the bus at the head of the road.

The automobiles were also used to travel, because that is what the people of Westport did frequently. Often though, they used airplanes. Many people of the town owned second or even third homes, on mountains and in Florida. Some of the homes were on island beaches, though Westport had several perfectly good beaches itself.

People traveled for business too, because they worked very hard. They flew all over the country and the world, “seeing clients” and “finalizing deals.” They flew to see how hard their employees were working, or to hire more of them, or sometimes fire them. They also flew to gain “frequent flier” miles, so that with their rewards they could fly even more.

Their children worked just as hard as the parents. They had many jobs: school, sports, clubs and lessons. Many children had their own tutors, so they could continue working long after school, sports, clubs and lessons were done for the day. They traveled nearly as much as their parents too, competing in sports tournaments all over the country, and helping to build bathrooms in impoverished nations. It was all part of preparation for their next job, which was getting into a college whose decal their parents could then paste proudly on the back of their automobiles.

Yet one day a great plague came. The people of Westport had heard about it for a while but - like all the people of their country - they believed they were invincible. Suddenly, however, it arrived, and spread rapidly. The people of Westport spent many days trying to figure out who to blame for spreading the plague, though it did not truly matter because there were not enough “test kits” to figure out who was infected and who was at risk. But that is a different story.

The plague forced all the people of Westport to retreat to their own homes. Schools were closed; businesses too. Restaurants served meals only “curbside,” or by delivery. The people of Westport foraged for food at grocery stores, waiting in lines six feet apart and speaking with difficulty through masks to clerks behind Plexiglas shields. Some of the people of Westport had been surprised that those grocery store workers, and others who stocked rare supplies of toilet paper and Lysol at CVS, had been asking previously for a $15 an hour minimum wage, but they now appreciated those people as “essential workers.”

It was a difficult time. Even the beach parking lots were closed. Yet as the days passed, something remarkable happened. Families that had spent all their time in separate rooms began enjoying hours together in just one of them. Fathers who would have been flying to Europe instead played basketball at noon with their daughters. Mothers who would have run board meetings taught their sons how to use some of the appliances in their fancy kitchens. All around town people walked, rode bicycles, and looked at the daffodils and forsythia and willow trees in bloom all around them. And they smiled.

It was still a terrible time. Far too many people got sick and died, even in a place like Westport that everyone had thought was protected from all outside threats. Many people lost jobs. Businesses closed. Some homes were very unhappy places. No one wants to go back to that time.

But no one wants to go back to life as it was before the great plague, either. That was such a strange time too.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.