The other day, my mother came out of the kitchen and asked me how Zoom works. I tucked my arms in, leaned forward and rushed to her face: “Like this!” She shook her head and chuckled.
Seriously, though, Zoom – an app I used only twice or thrice before COVID-19 – has become a crucial part of daily life.
My brother, who is employed in an insurance company, established a workstation in our lanai from where he conducts his meetings. We’re all used to him closing the French sliding doors in the morning to prevent anyone from walking in while in their pajamas. “Nobody come in. I’m in a meeting,” he would announce.
I myself am parked on a long plastic table in the adjacent living room. My mom set it up on the first week of the lockdown, replacing the coffee table and chairs where we used to receive guests. Now, every space in the ground floor is dedicated to work, recreation, or eating. I’d love to be able to work in my room in the attic, but it turns into a sauna in the merciless summer heat. On top of that, the WiFi is erratic there.
For my meetings, though, I like going out to the trellis. My dad has staked his claim to it long ago since it’s the only place where he can smoke while working. The WiFi is stable, plus there’s sunlight and fresh air. But he yields temporarily when I tell him I have an online appointment.
Even after work hours, Zoom figures heavily into my life. The other week I watched and laughed along as SPIT, the Silly People’s Improv Theater, did a livestream of their skits.
My friends and I also schedule what we call e-numan sessions. We log in at the same time, our choice of beverage in hand. It’s not the same but we make do. The other day, one of my best friends lamented the fact that she would be celebrating her 30th birthday in quarantine. A day before the big date, we conspired to do a simple surprise salubong. The plan was to send her a link to a funny video that was actually a meeting room where we would all be online to greet her.
An hour before midnight, she decided to go to bed. We all panicked and reached out to her mother who then shook her awake before the designated time. She said that there was some kind of emergency and she needed to go online to talk to her best friend. Groggily, my friend logged in and saw the multiple faces on her screen eagerly waiting.
“Happy birthday!” we all screamed. A big smile spread on her face as we danced along to a YouTube budots mix of the happy birthday song.
“What’s your wish for me?” she asked us. One by one, we gave our response: dinner together at our favorite restaurant, tight hugs, painting sessions, good health – simple things we had taken for granted before the lockdown.
After chatting for an hour, we decided to turn in. We sang a final verse of happy birthday, took a screenshot of our chat room for posterity, and logged out.