Editorial, November 19, 2021
A drive down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue has renewed our hopes that life as we once knew it is returning, slowly but returning. Our long-held belief that the fashionable and expensive shops along the avenue displayed their holiday decorations way too early in the season had the reverse effect this year. We marveled at the brightly colored decorations that signaled there would be pedestrians walking the streets and visitors from here and abroad (now that travelers from around the world are once again welcomed to our shores). Just a short time ago, the streets were empty and cars a novelty. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center made its way from Maryland and is up and scaffolded, ready to soon be decorated and brightly lit with thousands of lightbulbs, as ice skaters, some graceful but most wobbly on their feet, skate in the rink below. These signs of life are so welcomed and encouraging. Then our thoughts returned to the sterile and lonely life that was filled with Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp. Just getting connected to Zoom required an engineering degree, and many were the times that we had visual contact with no audio or verse versa. Once that situation was tackled, you had to get dressed. But if the angle of the screen was just right, you got away with just a clean shirt. Shaving and hair care were an option, but rarely taken. Orchestrating the whole event of a Zoom call was like directing a Hollywood motion picture: Lights, camera, action and quiet on the set, please. No one knew until now that my cashmere sweater you saw on screen was paired with my mud-paw-printed and dog-haired sweatpants. The fashion police were working overtime. It’s how we lived, and it’s how we conducted business, if we were lucky enough to still have a business. Connecting with friends and family and spending holidays looking at a computer screen to share good times and sad times. For the curious, these means of communicating exposed how our friends, family and co-workers lived. People we know whose homes we never visited were now in plain sight. Some created beautiful backdrops while most just moved a plant and book into view. Children, dogs and cats invaded the space at the most inopportune time and brought some levity to the conversation. Sometimes it was just an unexpected scream or flash of an underdressed family member trying to get to another room in the house as they passed by the screen. Yes, they are still an option in our lives, but we are becoming less dependent on them, and that brings a feeling of hope and encouragement that we are finally on the road to normalcy. We will be glad to see those days gone for good. We long for the day that the only word that starts with the letter Z is my last name.