Naturally, as a silly person, and the oldest child in my family, I’ve been trying to surprise the people I interact with these days with small forms of joy. It’s as much for me as it is for them. For example, my foray into Zoom virtual backgrounds:
Here’s the big one
The Sterling Cooper backgrounds were inspirations from being in the middle of re-watching Mad Men, and experiencing it very differently than my first time, when I wasn’t working as a designer (and still hated the color orange). A colleague mentioned that he actually re-watches the show every year. What a great idea.
That afternoon, I spent some time outdoors, during a time of the day when we are rarely outside, much less as a family. This time of the year, Austin is usually bustling with all sorts of visitors, students, musicians, tech bros, and outdoorsy folks. Living off a major street, I’m used to the noise. But this spring, all you can hear are the birds, and the occasional AC unit switching on. And that’s how we wait.
It reminded me of this scene from Mad Men:
But honestly, it’s more like this one:
The silver lining in this is that the toddler is asking questions about the web that suggest that she has a much different idea of
what it is what it could be than I expected. We don’t do screens, but we have been, because that’s one of the few ways we have left right now to see people. A few months ago, the toddler thought that my phone and computers were things I only used when I went to work. The web was the thing that knew everything and could answer any question.
That afternoon, while sitting outside to take advantage of sudden sunshine, a friend and fellow balletomane nudged me to visit NYCB Principal and enthusiastic social media poster Ashley Bouder’s Instagram account. Her daughter, who’s roughly the same age as the toddler, was pretending to work at the barre with her mom using a handrail. The toddler was poking around the garden when she came up to me and asked me why I was on my phone. She froze. I don’t think she had seen another person her age in over a week. She asked if we could meet more girls on the internet so they could be her friends, and if she could share with them the things she loved to do, like building. Then she lamented that her school was closed, because they were potty training, and if she couldn’t use the potty, she couldn’t start taking ballet lessons. She doesn’t understand that they don’t have ballet lessons in town at all right now. Before she went back to the grass she told me she was lonely.
But for a brief moment, it didn’t matter, and her heart leapt with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as galvanized to work and help give her that future web than in that moment. No pressure.
Then we went back inside, where we would continue to wait.