January 17, 2007

When they are away

My laptop computer keeps me connected to all sorts of people. Even my friends who live in town will often send an email, since it's very hard to get me on the telephone. My extended family sends all kinds of silly messages, congratulations, and news across the family email list. My out-of-town friends and I exchange long emails, confiding in each other, discussing relationships, and figuring out the meaning of life. Artist Friend will write me a long, sensitive email and then throw in a paragraph about football just to make sure I don't think he's too sappy.

When I log onto instant messenger, I usually do not intend to talk to anyone. I just like to read the list of away messages left by my kids, my nieces, and my extras. It's comforting to know that Schoolteacher Niece is Heading to Happy Hour! TGIF! or that Skater Boy is having a good day (My beat is correct) or that Boy in Black is Just chillin'. Ask any parent who has kids in college how often they check away messages. For the record, First Extra often has the funniest away messages – although Film Guy is good at finding cool song lyrics to put up. One of Shaggy Hair Boy's friends today had an away message that read: Off to inject some heroin. I am guessing he's training his parents early not to rely on his away messages.

When my daughter was home over winter break, and she'd see me open my laptop, she would often send me an instant message – just to make me look up and smile at her across the room. It seems funny now to see her instant message icon on my computer screen, to chat with her just as if she was sitting in the room, and to realize that she is on the other side of the ocean. She's arrived safely in the Big European City with Cool Pubs Where She is Not Underage, and today she and her friends found a flat to rent, just northeast of Hide and Seek Park. Her classes begin Monday so she has a few days now to explore the city she will be living in. Her laptop computer (and a wireless signal from some pub across the street) is already providing those of us at home with a steady stream of email messages, enabling us to enjoy her adventure vicariously.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

How wonderful to have IM to communicate with your daughter! I'm glad she made it there safely...

landismom said...

That is really great. Technology can be a wonderful thing. I remember going across the Atlantic for the first time, and trying to figure out how to use a phone to call my mom and tell her I was safe--this seems much easier!

Anonymous said...

Funny, my students and I may be staying very near your daughter's flat when we visit that city. In particular, we'll be near the Station of the Marmalade-Loving Bear.

jo(e) said...

Horace: When I lived in London as a college student, I lived in a flat just south of the Station of the Marmalade-Loving Bear. You will be very near my favorite pub -- The Mitre.

Anonymous said...

i wish your daughter much joy in her travels and peace for you while she is away. like you, i've maintained an MSN IM account for years to communicate with my daughter as she has lived/studied in the united kingdom, south africa, australia, and three states in the u.s.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Landismom, technology is a wonderful thing! So good that you can connect with your daughter, who is so far away, as if she is in the same room with you.

Anonymous said...

I love how I can have an immediate connection with Older Daughter when she is on line!

ppb said...

Technology is a very good thing. I never went abroad as a young person, but my sister went on a 4 week "see all of Europe with your soon to be ex bestfriend" tour. I remember all of us staying at home on Sunday nights waiting for the once a week 10 minute call. And my mom crying afterward.

What a difference a decade makes@

Rae said...

Wow, what a wonderful thing, the ability to keep in touch! It's hard to be away, intrepid traveler that I am, I can't imagine how I'll be when my kids travel away from me... :)

kathy a said...

glad she arrived safely, has a place to live, and has some time to explore!

technology is wonderful! we lived in japan for a year in the 1980's, and had to keep in touch with family via very expensive phone calls and very slow snail-mail. what i would have given for IM.

your family's away messages sound quite entertaining.

Dr.K said...

When I was in Paris, I spent many, many pleasant afternoons in cafes, with an espresso, writing long post cards in the tiniest handwriting I could keep legible. The people I wrote to have all kept them. Print your daughter's messages and keep them in a folder, because it would be a shame if they just evaporated some day.

halloweenlover said...

What a wonderful, fabulous, amazing adventure for her! I'm so excited! Please share with us some of her adventures, I'm so jealous!

jackie said...

I emailed my mother every day when I was in the Union Jack Country, and when I got back, she gave me a folder full of all my emails, as well as the postcards I had sent. I was there eight years ago (!!) and IM was not around, so it was all about emails. I remember finding internet cafes in Rome and Barcelona, just so I could check in with my parents during my spring break travels.

glad to hear she's doing well!