By Carol Stiffler
At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10, my kindergarten daughter, Natalie, had a Zoom meeting with her teacher and classmates. Using the video calling platform, which allows everyone to see each other on the same computer screen, classmates showed off what they’d built with LEGO and mostly eyeballed each other awkwardly. It was adorable.
At 5 p.m. that afternoon, my siblings and I joined a Zoom birthday meeting for my father. My brother hopped on the call from Reno and showed us his new baby, Weston, the third child for him and his wife. Weston is dreamy. He slept through the entire call, and I could practically feel his wonderful warmth.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and significant others held a giant Zoom gathering, a substitute for their usual Easter brunch. We attended from as far away as California and Delaware, some of us seeing each other for the first time in years.
My aunt, Elena, who is a nurse in Los Angeles, showed us the houseboat she lives on with her partner, Berti. Elena updated us on hospital conditions in Los Angeles and said they were limping along with an insufficient amount of personal protective equipment. California isn’t able to test enough patients for coronavirus to report an accurate number of infected citizens, she said. And there definitely aren’t enough hospital beds.
Her sister, Emily, who lives near Detroit, said the landlord who lives in her duplex had a confirmed case of coronavirus and though Emily has felt all right, she lost her sense of smell a couple weeks ago.
On a lighter note, I got to meet my cousin Stephen’s girlfriend, Rachel, my cousin Jessica’s new bulldog, Grover, and my Uncle John’s black kitty, Apollo. I learned that my Uncle Andy shaved off his mustache – I can’t ever remember him without it – for this chaotic episode and now looks remarkably like my Uncle Ed, who passed away 20 years ago.
There were a few tears, but mostly laughs. We heard a few comments about wishing we weren’t kept apart right now, but we all agreed about how glad we were for the chance to meet up and simply see each other. Everybody was smiling almost all the time.
There are other ways to connect online, but Zoom seems to dominate during the coronavirus pandemic. Churches are even Zooming church services to members. I wonder how the Zoom servers can handle the sudden success.
I’d never heard of Zoom before coronavirus, and now I hear about Zoom more than any other thing except coronavirus. Zoom is getting an awful lot of credit for making the impossible possible these days.
It’s a small thing – an app – but right now, Zoom is playing a superhero role in daily life.
Coronavirus will go away eventually – or at least calm down – probably with the aid of a vaccine. But Zoom will still be here, bringing time zones into one place and doing nothing new, really, but winning at everything at the same time.