Before March of 2020, I thought of zooming as moving rapidly along a sidewalk or road, on foot or in an automobile. Sometimes I’d even zoom in for a close-up of a photograph. But that month, zooming took on a whole new meaning.
On the afternoon of March 21, 2020 I walked around my neighborhood with a dilemma: drive to Myrtle Beach the next morning to witness my grandson’s baptism or Zoom the event from my sunroom. Perplexed, I called a friend for advice. The grandmother of ten, she knew I should be there in person, yet she also knew COVID-19 precautions had been put into effect, not only at the church but in virtually all gathering places.
We finished our conversation, and I continued my walk, still uncertain about what to do. My son planned to set up Zoom, a virtual way of meeting that would allow me to participate in the event—and even give a talk. But I was unfamiliar with Zoom and found it threatening and scary. Nevertheless, the next morning found me sitting in front of my Mac, trying unsuccessfully to connect to the meeting. After a few stressful moments, I decided to use my iPhone, and within seconds I was in a church in Myrtle Beach, the only in-person individuals being my son and his family and the other three grandparents. Social distancing was in effect.
Since that was the first time I’d zoomed a meeting, I didn’t know I could access a gallery and see all the other attendees who were “present” in Utah, Georgia, and other locations in South Carolina. I could see only the aforementioned eight people sitting in the Myrtle Beach Ward. I witnessed the baptism and heard talks and prayers from homes in three states, though, and that was reward enough for me. Amazing, in fact.
It was a remarkable experience, sort of like a visual conference call, and I told Ethan, my grandson, that he’d probably made history as the first person baptized via Zoom in his ward. As spring turned to summer, church was held in members’ individual homes, and by mid-summer there was a tentative move back to church reopenings enforced with social distancing and mask wearing. And now, mid-November, things are almost back to pre-Covid status. Almost.
From April until the present, Zoom meetings have become regular occurrences. I’ve participated in conferences, classes, and meetings, and although it was awkward at first, Zooming was soon as common as Facetiming (if not more so).
But last week, I participated in a different kind of event using Zoom, a baby shower. The mom, her mother, the hostess, and a couple of other people sat in a living room in a nearby city. All other attendees showed up in a virtual gallery. As I played the games and watched the young mother open a few gifts, I thought of how wonderful it was to be able to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her baby. At the same time, I wondered if it was to be if not the last, then one of the last official virtual gatherings for me.
I’m ready for up close and personal comings-together, the kind when you can look around a room and see people interact, hear them laugh, ooh and aah over gifts without turning on a microphone or raising your hand.
That said, I’m finding myself a little anxious about reentering the real world. Are you?