Crowds and Skype screens

July 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have been so happy here.

My wonderful host family has left nothing undone to make me feel right at home — considering little comforts beyond what I had ever thought to consider. They supplied my little desk with pens and pencils, gave me a kettle and a basket of teas. On the shelf near the window there’s a bowlful  gummi bears that never seems to diminish.

They also gave me an Ethernet cord, videocam and large monitor, so that I could Skype with my family whenever I like.

ISU has kept us so busy that, with the time difference in play, I’ve rarely found time for a lengthy call home. But this weekend marked the celebration of two birthdays — my brother’s and my country’s. I stayed up late to tune in through my little screen to the party at home.

Two rings and an answer. A blurred silhouette that sharpened into my sister’s beaming face. Familiar voices in the background  — an excited call, and then a rush. A crowd of friends, jostling to say hello. The best of my world waving at me in 640X480 pixels.

And there it was, fast unfurling within my heart, love and relief and joy and wistfulness and celebration.

I  felt the separation and distance contract and expand. I was welled up with homesickness and would have traded my trip for a portkey to New Bedford — but for those minutes, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t there. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t make s’mores or see fireworks, because I could see the birthday cake on the table and sing happy birthday with the crowd.

I wish I could describe it — or collect it and distill it, and send it to the Luddites who have lectured me about how technology ruins the human connection. I think then they would understand.

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