Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friends, Friends, Friends, We Will Always Be....

November, 2008 was a good time to join Facebook. I was just finishing a prolonged recovery from what should have been minor surgery and at the same time, my daughter departed for college, leaving me with time on my hands to figure out what social networking was all about. Now anyone under the age of 25 may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of the effect computers and the internet have had on society. After all, you can't miss what you've never had to do without. But I definitely remember the days of coming home from a summer away at camp, heading to the drug store to buy what we quaintly called "stationery"
and then going to the post office to buy books of stamps and self-enclosing air mail envelopes.   Phone calls, even local ones, were too expensive (and nothing was worse than waiting for the rotary dial to spin around, registering all those nines and zeros), so we spent the days surrounding Labor Day penning letters to all the people we said goodbye to when those buses pulled out at the end of August.  And that not only applied to summer camp, but also to my three summer breaks in between my college years.  It was, to put it mildly, another world. And needless to say, the effort to keep in touch grew old very quickly.

So back to Facebook. Once I established myself, the friend requests did come fast and furious. The categories were simple; high school and college friends, camp friends, friends from web-based special interest boards (most of whom I had already met in person) and family and friends.  I tried to explain to my kids and especially my son, who still thinks it's an aberration of nature that his mother should have a Facebook page and refuses to acknowledge that fact by ignoring any and all friend requests from said mother, that people my age use Facebook differently than he and his friends do. To them, Facebook is a way to connect in the most present of tenses, while to us, it's been a fantastic way to to "re-connect" to our past.

For instance, this weekend, my college roommates and I are meeting up at a nearby hotel for a weekend together. For those of you who knew me in SUNY-Binghamton, the six "girls" of 8 Arthur Street will be partying together for the first time in 30 years. Pretty amazing, isn't it? I think so.  Of course, our overnight bags will now contain reading glasses and medicinal aides as opposed to baggies of unnamed illegal substances and there will be no keg in the bathtub. But that's fine. Just the fact that we get to spend the time together after all these years is amazing.

There are other reunions in the works for me. One involves some travel pretty far away later in the year. And then there are the smaller, less involved get togethers.... lunch or dinner on a Saturday, nights meeting at a show or a bar in the city, that sort of thing.

You know, someone once said to me that there's a reason you lose track of people in your life over the years. They've "served their purpose" and are only relevant to the times in which you all lived, worked or played together. And after that, what's the point of keeping in touch? Those days are gone, and it's time to move forward. Well, I can honestly say that is the biggest crock of bull I've ever heard. We may have lost touch because the technology to keep in touch was not available then. But not a day goes by that I'm not unbelievably thankful that the people who were once so important to me in my life are now back in it. They, and the experiences we shared, wherever and whenever that may have been, are and will always be relevant, because they shaped the person I've become in a lot of ways. So to my son, I say, "Don't friend me, it's okay. I've got that covered."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flights of Fancy

With the coming of Spring and the help of my countdown clock, my thoughts have now turned to the three airplane encounters coming up for me in the remainder of this year.

The first and most important, the one that's now 58 days 13 hours and 3 seconds away, is the 22 hour odyssey to Sydney undertaken primarily to visit my daughter.  Yes, to all of you who are familiar with my love of air travel,  I'm going. And I'm going with my sister, as a belated "special" birthday trip.

The words  "22 hour flight with my sister" originally conjured up the picture of me, heavily drugged in LAX, frozen in terror on the jetway, hands and feet spread wide,  clutching at the doorway of the aluminum tube soon to be my home for 14 additional hours, refusing to board, refusing to move. Said sister would be pushing me from behind, all the while muttering words that resemble, "I'm not putting up with this sh*t. Get moving or get out of my way!" Interestingly enough, as the day of departure draws closer, that particular picture has receded, to be replaced by thoughts of a comfy seat, interesting in-flight entertainment and a long 8 hour snooze (it has to be mentioned here that I have never actually been able to sleep on a plane for more than a second or two at a time, but hope springs eternal). I've purchased my neck pillow, my eyeshades (okay, so they came out of a cereal box and say Kelloggs All Bran on one side, but they are soft and silk-like and they do work. I'll keep the side with the print facing in).  I'm researching a foot rest and contemplating the best seating on a 747 so neither one of us has anyone crawling over us to get to the bathroom or to do in-flight calisthenics. I've ordered my supply of happy pills, both of long and short duration, and am generally keeping the goal in mind; getting off the plane and seeing my daughter and spending some time with her in a beautiful place a world away from here, in more ways than one.

Banished from memory recall are thoughts of the last long flight I took, stuffed in a middle seat, next to a small, whiny child, whose parent mistakenly thought I'd serve as an in-flight nanny, seat back in front of me inches away from my face and fighting a panic attack for the entire 7 hours it took to fly across the Atlantic. I will not think of that. I will not. I promise.

I am taking pride in the fact that my sister will be deprived of the opportunity to experience travel with  "Psycho Traveler," the name my immediate family calls me any time I need to board an aircraft. Psycho Traveler will be left behind this time.  I'd rather not travel with her either.