We are four baby boomers, well into retirement age (well, three of us…) and learning to cope with a world turned upside down by Covid-19. A retired teacher, librarian, mother of a veterinarian (there’s a reason I identified her this way…) and me, writer, photog, editor.
In our 60’s and 70’s, none of us is lucky enough to live with grandchildren who can tutor us on the arcane processes of modern technology, so we were astounded when it only took us 20 minutes to log onto Zoom, the new teleconferencing app, and launch into a laughing conversation we had been missing since “Stay at Home” became the law of the land in Southern California.
Twenty minutes! Of course, we consulted on our cell phones and advised each other as we one by one popped up on computer screens. It was a relief to be together.
We are part of a hiking group, the La Verne Trail Trekkers, who used to hike every Saturday morning in the beautiful foothills of eastern Los Angeles County. We would catch up and stroll along, usually accompanied by two of Linda’s dogs, Cocoa and Peanut (short for Persephone.)
Now we commiserated about our social isolation and the absence of the social contacts that in normal times filled our lives.
“I miss people and not having access to friends,” Carrie said. “And especially my grandchildren. This year I will miss my Grandson’s birthday for only the second time. He’ll be thirteen.”
“I miss people too,” Maggie agreed. She lives alone but is cheered by the company of her dog, Julie. “I talk to her a lot!”
Linda has the advantage of sharing her house with her veterinarian daughter, three dogs, a cat and a snake. Plus whatever furry or feathered patient Sandra brings home for special care. Only the two larger dogs belong to her but Sandra’s cat seems to have taken a liking to Linda and frequently seeks out her head for a sitting cushion. “You’ve spoiled my cat!” the vet complains. It’s not people Linda misses in the social isolation of Stay at Home, but the beautiful open trails so near to La Verne and the limitations on things to do, except for food shopping.
“I shop too much,” she says ruefully.
Maggie’s life is still full. For the first month of Stay at Home, she and her long time dating friend agreed not to make the nearly 60 mile drive between their houses. Lately, they have gotten together. But things are not the same: “We always went out to dinner,” she says, “and then looked for a play to go and see or a movie or a concert. That’s gone! We can’t do any of that!”
Date night is no longer possible, but they are improvising, like the time they went tail gating in the take-out restaurant parking lot where they enjoyed breakfast al fresco.
We’ve missed each other too. Hence the zoom teleconference. Carrie hosted the first meeting, guiding each of us onto the website. It took a lot of trial and error for each of us to find and then click the video and audio buttons on the bottom bar and for us to be able to see and hear each other. But we did it!
“It’s a learning curve,” Carrie advises. There is no simple list of 5 easy steps to log into Zoom that will work on every computer, phone or tablet. It helps to be flexible, she advises. If something doesn’t work, try something else, open another tab, look around for another link or another button. “You need a high tolerance for ambiguity,” she says.
Lately, Susie has joined us. She is still working for an electric company, but is able to work at home, accompanied also by her house cat. Normally, a member of a large extended family stretching from Arizona to the three corners of the Los Angeles basin, she has been communicating with her grandaughter by phone, has had no physical contact with her parents and will only meet her brother’s baby at a six foot distance this weekend.
Susie is a most welcome member of the Boomer Zoomers…she is the most technologically competent and has already given advice about getting faster streaming speeds for our various internet connections! Usually, we call that trail wisdom, things that come up in trail conversations (also called trail therapy on occasion.)
We all have our projects. I’m working on improving my screen shots while zooming (that is a work in progress.) Maggie sews cloth masks and she and Linda shop for friends who are home bound or afraid to be in public, Carrie is the tech savy senior who introduces everyone to the brave new world of social media. And when we can’t be volunteers in the community because we are in the high risk age group, we can at least make donations.
In the meantime, we’re becoming Seniors with Attitude, increasingly tech savvy and still in touch.