Zoom call puts couple on path to marriage during a pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The first time he saw her face?

It was not at a crowded party.

Or even in a cafe, or a bar.

It’s 2020, after all, and so he gazed, from a tiny square on a computer screen ...

Yes, they met on Zoom.

And how could this romance-turned-life-commitment be typical in the year of the pandemic?

Sure, they did know very early on that theirs was not just some casual, albeit a bit weird, dating thing.

Yes, they do have many fun stories to share since they first met in late February, such as this one, from early June: Chris Porter was camping with friends but couldn’t stop thinking about Sarah Gleason, and so he climbed a cliff and stretched his hands toward civilization to get just enough of a phone signal to ask her on their first date.

And then Chris, 40, couldn’t think of where to go because COVID-19 cases were peaking and just about everything was closed.

Eventually, he bought a portable camping table and comfy camping chairs. They would pick up chai teas, or takeout, and meet outside.

So much for Sarah Porter — then Sarah Gleason — declaring to her friend that dating was officially suspended in 2020 because meeting anyone during a worldwide pandemic was unlikely.

In fact Sarah’s entire no-dating theory was quickly on its way to being debunked when she got on a Zoom call in February for her marketing job. So did Chris Porter, who was working the business development side of his company, No Tall Order, for a shared client called OOROO Auto, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

It was during this online conference that Sarah’s dog, Portia, a wire-haired Dachshund, went a bit nuts, as dogs do when they mysteriously get really happy. And so Portia started zooming around her living room while trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to jump on the couch.

Sarah smirked at first, but then as everyone started to notice, they all laughed and talk turned from marketing to the dog.

Chris laughed too, of course, but he was more intrigued by the woman than the dog.

After the call ended, Chris did what people do these days: He looked her up on Facebook. They had some 40 friends in common.

They became Facebook friends. Soon Sarah noticed Chris liked a lot of her posts. A lot of them.

It went on like that for a bit until Chris posted a meme about the movie “Arrival.” Sarah commented it was one of her all-time favorites.

Chris was blown away: This woman is smart, attractive, and she likes science fiction?

The comments about “Arrival” went back and forth a bit until one of Sarah’s friends told her what seemed so obvious.

“She said, ‘He likes you. Just message him!’”

She did. Chris, Sarah says, wrote back “a novel.”

“A week later, he and his roommates went whitewater rafting in Utah and he texted me the whole trip,” said Sarah, 36.

This is when Chris climbed the cliff, much to the amusement of his friends.

And after this is when he bought the camping table and chairs.

They also had Netflix movie parties, each in their own homes and chatting online.

“When things started opening up a bit, we spent a lot of time outside,” he said.

By the end of July, they were dating exclusively.

“I knew probably sooner than he did,” Sarah said. “After our first date, I was driving home and I thought, ‘I could marry this man.’ Now, I don’t normally have these kinds of thoughts. I startled myself.”

Chris was a little nervous about letting on how he felt. He didn’t want to scare her off.

They’d walk around at La Encantada and, when it was quiet enough, stroll through Crate & Barrel.

Sarah started pointing out things she’d love to have for her house one day. Then one day it became “their house.”

They took a big step toward that imagined house on Dec. 20, when they got married.

Oh, but first they met one another’s parents, of course. Online.

And Sarah had a wedding shower. On Zoom.

Chris secretly recorded his proposal on GoPro so they could share a recorded moment of their happy news with family and friends.

They also had to get realistic about when and how to have a wedding. They settled on having a few people gather in Chris’ midtown backyard — masked and distant — while more family and friends watched on Facebook live.

And they got their marriage certificate early, just in case the courts closed down again.

They decided on what they absolutely wanted to have happen. Everything after, they said, was a big plus.

“We don’t know what else 2020 is going to throw our way,” Chris said. “If the pastor shows up and I get to marry you, everything else is just a bonus.”

The Porters plan to have a big party when things finally return to normal.