I have discussed in past posts my aversion to using the telephone. I am simply just not the type of person who could ever just pick up the phone and have a long and drawn out conversation about minutiae. It isn't that I don't care about you or love you or want to stay connected to you, it is just that the telephone is not and never has been my instrument of choice. Of course this was a source of great consternation and conflict between my father and myself when I was growing up as he lives on the phone. To this day there are two landlines and two cellphones ringing or vibrating constantly in my parent's home. It drives me crazy, but it makes him happy.
Surprisingly, I was also a pretty crappy letter writer in my younger days. It wasn't the actual writing that would stunt me, but rather the lack of immediate gratification. Think about it. You write a letter filled with all sorts of wonderful stories about family, friends, and events to share with your pen pal who lives hundreds of kilometres/miles away. You carefully address it, stamp it, and run it down to the mailbox and then......you wait. And wait. And wait. If a response ever did arrive it came weeks later, as you spent hours hoping and praying that your friend was a better and more dedicated letter writer than yourself, and the excitement you initially felt writing and sharing goes AWOL in a morass of anticlimax and disappointment. As a direct result of my irrational fears and procrastination I stupidly lost touch with a great many people from my younger days. And then....it arrived. My panacea. A cure-all for the crazy and lazy looking for a way to reconnect. The electronic and information age. Social media. E-mail. I know it isn't for everybody, but it works for me. One of the great byproducts of sites like Facebook is how it has brought old friends from all over the globe back into my life. It is like a giant reunion without ever having to leave the comfort of my couch. But we are human and we crave human interaction. Updating our statuses can only go so far. So when one of these old friend connections emailed to say that she would be in The Great White North this weekend on business and could we get together, I was excited. And nervous. And panicked. Stupid? Probably. But how do you pack thirty years into three hours?
I needn't have worried. She looked amazing-as if thirty years hadn't touched her-and I...well I looked like me! It is amazing how we fell into the same patter and easy conversations. Of course we shared pictures of our kids (Way to go iPhone! Another advantage over the Blackberry!!) and talked of our families, career paths, and the twists and turns that brought us to that dinner table last evening. I caught her up on all of the Toronto people that she knew and she shared why she left rabbinic school in her third year. (It is a great story that was triggered by being posted to a student congregation in Winnipeg. Just think about Winnipeg for a while and draw your own conclusions!) We laughed, we reminisced, we ate terrific food, and we talked about the future. I told her that we sometimes pass through her town on our way down to the Southern Home, so hopefully it won't be another thirty years before we see each other.
As I get older I have come to realize that relationships are transient. People flit in and out of our lives with a frightening effortlessness. Some put down roots and stay forever and others act like waves on the sand. But, they all have left an imprint on me and they all have strengthened me a person. It doesn't mean I will get any better on the phone or with snail mail, but I am ready to embrace the next reconnection.