I had coffee with my dear friend Colleen today. We hadn't spoken in about a month so we caught up on family happenings, new projects, and hometown acquaintances. We were just hitting our familiar animated rhythm, laughing as we talked over each other, when we got cut off mid~grammar~school~name~drop. Her phone died suddenly about an hour into our call, but we could have gone on for days.
A couple of years ago Coll and I started meeting each month over Facetime, and~~like our 45-year (!) friendship~~our time together truly is a bright light in my life. I hit the Dunks drive-through and get comfy in my Jeep while Coll settles in on cushions in her beautiful space in Durham, NC, The Love Lab. I've only seen it via a 360-degree tour from Coll's phone, but the warmth and support of the place is palpable. We feel so unconstricted by our technology, in fact, that I found myself literally leaning closer to my screen this afternoon to get a closer look at a pendant she was wearing.
With jobs, growing families and nearly 700 miles between us, life got busy for Coll (who now goes by Coco) and me after college, There were emails, occasional marathon phone conversations, and the rare (and always far too brief) in~person visits. But thanks to social media we found it easier to stay in touch more regularly. And once we tried Skyping there was no looking back. Our monthly meetings have become non-negotiable appointments, and though we both have to do some wrangling to squeeze in our conversations, our hearts expand exponentially after our time together.
Some people feel digital communication drives people apart~~creating walls to hide behind and misunderstandings from lack of context. But many of the friends I've been able to reconnect with over the years are people I very well could have lost touch with forever. How in the world would I have ever known that one of my Connecticut high school classmates was living six miles from me in Massachusetts? Amy and her family jumped solidly into our life when we met up after rekindling our friendship on Facebook. I'll never forget her keeping me company at Brigham and Women's Hospital during my husband's ICD surgery, and bringing her husband and four kids to our home on Christmas Eve to serenade us with carols when he was home recovering.
So don't get me wrong~~it's true that Facetime just doesn't beat face-to-face time. But, let's see ... full-time job, teaching and taking yoga classes, renovating two homes, family matters ... we're all busy these days. So I get it. It took my Vermont farmer neighbor and me five years to finally be able to spend a few hours together for massages and lunch. But when we're not up north she keeps me up on the weather and the latest cow news with texts.
If technology isn't your thing there are other analog ways to keep your relationships strong. Four years ago my stepson brought us not just a sweet daughter~in~law but her lovely Maryland-Pennsylvania family as well. Until the kids return from Japan later this year we'll be Skyping with them every holiday ... and now I find myself shopping for "just to say hello" greeting cards to send down south on the regular. And when I see an envelope with a mid-Atlantic return address in the mail it's like a warm hug coming all the way up the coast.
So even though Coll and I can't go back to the long, lazy summer days of sleepovers and pool time, we can stay in touch to the best of our current ability. And really, having so many different ways to connect is a blessing. Who knows ... maybe we'll still be around when teleporters become commonplace. Then we'll really be cooking with coconut oil! ;)
How do you stay in touch with your loved ones?