Bringing the Party Home

Video conferencing has long helped us stay in touch with family and make remote work easier. But as we’re stuck at home, it can also help us reconnect with old friends, a bright spot in the new normal.

By Cynthia Needham Tipplergoods contributer, Updated March 23, 2020, 7:18 p.m.

My college friends and I joke that we’ve never finished a conversation. We don’t see each other often, and when we do, our meet-ups take on a frenzied quality. There’s so much ground to cover, and only a few hours together, so topics bleed into one another, a new one beginning before we notice we’ve left the last one behind. There’s never enough time.

When a pandemic hits, it turns out, there’s nothing but time. At least that’s the case for those of us fortunate enough to ride out this terrible thing from the comfort of home.

So late the other night, this group of women did what clusters of friends on social media the world over have been doing this week: We flipped on our computers, grabbed a glass of wine, and gathered on a Zoom call to catch up, five old friends in the grid of faces that’s quickly becoming part of a new normal.

Staring across the Internet at a crowd for the first time can feel distinctly awkward, even when you’ve known them for two decades. But give it a few minutes and the stiffness falls away, replaced by the easy rhythm that has carried you -- and us -- through years of friendship. This time, though, there were no babysitters to rush home to, no apologies about waiting so long to reconvene.

We made fun of the bad lighting and someone’s outfit and ribbed the friend who’d gone to the trouble of adding a filter for a ridiculous sun-kissed effect. Full disclosure: That friend was me. It had been a long week in the news business.

From my safe little box on the screen at 9 p.m., I felt myself exhale, really exhale, for the first time in days.

What else did we cover? Nothing and everything, the same things we all talk about with our oldest friends (though you wouldn’t be wrong if you thought it devolved into confessions that most of us, improbably, are watching Love is Blind on Netflix. No judgment, please).

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