LONG DISTANCE LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I used to have a vibrant and full social life with lots of lunch dates with women and dinners with couples. There were trips to museums and shows with friends, dinner parties at people’s homes, meetings with fellow volunteers and ‘play dates’ with our children.

This sounds normal, but it assumes that your friends actually live near you. That was the case when I was younger – not so much anymore. Now I’m removed from most of my friends – separated by geography. My closest friend moved from the next town to Virginia many years ago. Another close friend moved to Florida. Two other couples moved to LA and Portland, Oregon, respectively.

Several good friends live in New York City which is driveable, but very inconvenient. We often spend over two hours in the car one way and have to pay $30 or more to park our car when we get there. Two other friends live in Massachusetts, a two and a half hour drive, which is not taken often.

Other nearby friends have drifted away over the years, like the parents of my kids’ friends who were apparently only convenience or proximity friends. Add to this the fact that my wonderful daughter has lived in LA for almost ten years!

The upshot of all this is that my connection with the people I love is more electronic these days than face to face. I have had to adjust to a life of texts and emails and the occasional phone call. I actually make ‘dates’ with one friend to have a long phone conversation every few weeks to stay caught up and to just chat.

My daughter and I have long phone conversations about everything but she hates the phone so this doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I love talking on the phone so staying in touch by phone satisfies my desire for connection.

It seems that my everyday contact is more and more through texts and emails, which are good for some things but not for others. It’s great to be able to share a cute photo of my dogs or show off the new lamp, or dress I just bought. My daughter has sent me selfies from the dressing room of a store to help her pick which outfit to buy. That is great. So is sending quick news flashes about insignificant happenings.

It falls short, however, when complex things are going on in your life or when there’s an emotional issue that requires more than a few lines to explain. Sometimes you just need a reassuring voice in your ear. On the other hand, sometimes a few lines of moral support from a distant friend can be very meaningful and helpful. Not quite a hug, but not all that bad.

My intimate conversations are mostly done by phone now. I have a few close friends nearby but they are not retired yet and have very busy lives. So finding time to sit and talk isn’t always easy, even when we live down the road.

I’ve gotten used to this situation and can feel satisfied after a good phone talk in lieu of an in-person interaction. I don’t love Face time or Skype. I don’t feel seeing a small, usually distorted photo of my friend on a small screen, really adds anything to the conversation.

My son has also moved one and a half hours away so we talk on the phone every day and text a lot – mostly jokes and memes and quick updates. I still feel very close to him, which may be easier because I get to see him every few weeks.

These in-person visits add to the relationship because they give us time to just hang out together. I’ve realized how important that is. I’m closer to my boat friends because we spend lots of time sitting on each other’s boats, talking laughing, drinking or just reading together. It’s this unstructured time I miss most when I have to rely on my cell phone for personal contact.

My future holds more texts, emails and ‘phone dates’ and less in-person contact as more friends retire and move away. I’ve coped so far, so I guess I’ll just get to love my phone more as my main contact with the outside world.

10 thoughts on “LONG DISTANCE LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. This seems to be the story of most of us, except since many of our friends were older than us … and cancer seems to be way to go these days … a lot of friends are simply gone. We can’t afford much traveling anyway, but even if we could, I don’t know how much we’d be able to do. We attended Owen’s 50th birthday party today. When you kids is signed up for AARP, you can be pretty sure you’re no spring chicken! Glad you guys are still around and Cherrie and Ron are still within driving distance, because almost everyone else has disappeared to a long air flight away! Email takes the sting out of some of it … but it’s not like hanging out with friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m also facing the prospect of my closest friend, who lives five minutes away, retiring soon and moving away, at least for part of the year. That will be a big blow for me to absorb. She may only move an hour or so but that will still signal a new stage of long distance relationships for me.

      Like

  2. My sister and I live 140kms apart, a two-hour drive which she tries to do about once a month so we can meet face to face. The rest of the time we keep in touch via instant messaging and the occasional phone call. I don’t really enjoy using the phone that much. I never have but she and I will talk until our phone batteries go flat or one of us has to go to the bathroom. David’s family are in South Australia and my oldest friend is in Victoria so we meet less than once a year.
    I do have a group of local friends that I see regularly but once I move away from here I doubt I’ll see them often. They are all older than I am. I think it will be up to me to come back to the Huon Valley to visit with them but at least we’ll have email.

    Like

    1. For me, the phone is the real connector between people. Texting and emailing is fine for news updates or quick questions, but for really ‘talking’ to someone, there’s nothing like the phone. My son lives an hour and a half away and we see each other once or twice a month. But we talk every day, even if there is nothing ‘new’ to talk about. I know which dog has to go to the vet and when his C-Pap machine is malfunctioning. He knows about everything my audio theater group is doing and how my dog is faring in dog obedience class (not great). So the phone keeps us truly close and involved in each other’s lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know, Ellin, it feels lonely at times and somewhat isolated. Some of my friends are so busy (as am I at times), that we have to wait weeks before we have a date that works for us. Thank goodness for electronics that at least enable us to keep in touch even when we’re on the go.

    Like

    1. Sande, I know that if we lived closer, we would be doing things together all the time. But we have to settle for wonderful talks on the phone, which is the next best thing. I realize that we can still be close without physical proximity but sometimes I long for the full package.

      Like

  4. That does seem to be a part of life these days. Thank heavens for the advancement in electronics because now we are able to Skype, FaceTime etc. and keep in touch with our friends and family.
    Leslie

    Like

    1. My daughter lives in LA and hates the phone, so I have had to adjust to texting as a primary way to stay in touch day to day. We get one or two long phone calls a month, so I don’t feel like we’re drifting apart. When we are together, we talk for days on end and never run out of things to say. But most of the year we keep up via text. She’ll send me photos of dresses she’s chosing between to wear so I can help her decide what to wear. So I guess the mother daughter relationship is still intact.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your relationship sounds healthy to me. Peter is going to Skype with his sister in Kingston, Ontario, tonight so it does keep us closer.
        Leslie
        Lesli

        Like

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.