Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Phoning it In

Phone it in. As in Jillian Michaels pointing her finger through the TV screen at my working-out ass and saying, "Do NOT phone this in!"

Or there's "phone a friend." As in Regis Philbin suggesting to the next 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' that you phone your designated friend if you just can't figure out the answer to the question that might make you a million dollars richer.

I'm more fond of the latter. There are just sometimes you must phone a friend. Tonight I picked my friend, Kelly. Well, actually Wanderer phoned Kelly. On my behalf. I don't know what he said to her, but all of the sudden he handed me the phone with her on the other end. After just a few minutes my sad, discouraged self quit sitting with glazed-over eyes staring at the dining room wall and started laughing, listening, gabbing, and--as she would say--setting the world to rights. Well, my world and Kelly's anyway.

It wasn't long enough. It wasn't face-to-face. She was an awfully long way away in England. There wasn't a strong cup of tea or a tall glass of wine involved. But it was my friend. Who gets me. Who I get. There's just something about that, isn't there?

My mumsie FaceTimed me from the US today. Must have been late, late at night her time. She'd got my message though. She'd read my blog about what in the world to do about my sweet, sad Biggest boy. So we talked. She told her own story of similar struggles with me and my siblings. She made a few really helpful suggestions. We talked and laughed a bit and she admitted she had no idea how to set mine or Biggest's world to rights but she loved me, she was available, and she was real sorry it was so hard. She gets me. That's why she called. She knew I needed to phone a mama.

My silly cell phone doesn't work at my house. We're having trouble getting the Aussie cell phone companies to give me a phone that's not a top-up so we're having trouble remedying the poor-phone problem. But tonight Wanderer and I Skyped over the 3G network while he rode home in a cab from the Sydney airport. He sounded a wee-bit like a robot. Littlest kept asking him, "What you in, Daddy?" Not understanding why on earth you'd have a conversation through the computer if it wasn't video-enabled. Still we talked. He made me laugh and asked about everyone's day and let me know how much he loved me.

Biggest asked me a few weeks ago when I got my first cell phone. "Hmmmm..." I answered. "I think I was about 23?" He was incensed. "WHAT?!?! Your parent's didn't let you have one in high school?!?!" "B, they didn't have them when I was in high school," I told him. "Whoa Mom, I didn't realize you were THAT old!"

In 1996, I spent about a year in Kiev, Ukraine. The internet was a tiny baby. You could email, but not everyone had an account and getting online was patchy--especially from the Ukrainian end. Making a long-distance call involved a trip to the post office to pay for the time, then a call from a land-line to an operator to connect you, then finally the placed call which must be kept within the time limit purchased and often included interruptions of various other conversations over the same line. Still we were amazed about how much modern conveniences had changed the process of keeping in touch. That in spite of the fact that all minute-purchasing, connecting, etc. had to be meticulously practiced in Russian ahead of time or else facilitated by a Ukrainian friend as none of it could be done in English. Still we felt quite well-connected given the enormous distance between us.

I am living now in a completely different hemisphere than my family or any of my friends. I almost always speak to them in a different day--most often we talk in their evening while I have already experienced part of the next morning. Still we talk while walking or driving (hands free of course) or doing dishes. Anytime, any place over our cell phones. We see each other over phones, computers, and iPads. Showing each other our houses, our children's newest tricks, our new puppies, our tears and laughter. We connect. We phone it in. We phone a friend.

I'm enormously grateful for technology in this moment, but not nearly as grateful as the precious friends and family it allows me to connect to.

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