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THE LAST OF PEGGY
November 4, 2000
Well, I shipped the last remnants of Peggy back to her today. I finally got her clothes washed and ironed (did you hear that, Peggy?) and then I boxed up and the whole kit and kabootle--all four boxes of it--to the post office and into the system. Im not sure, but I think this must make about 12 boxes in all that she had to ship home to Australia. This is the woman who arrived with two suitcases. Does this tell you how she spent her summer vacation? :-)
Its kinda lonely with the last of it gone. While there were still boxes and clothes around here, there were still pieces of her here that had to be taken care of somehow. But now all the pieces are in the mail and Im just left with a big ol empty pink bedroom and a bazillion photos.
She should be home now, but hasnt picked up her e-mail yet (she turned it off in her absence), nor has she been able to telephone to let me know that she made it safely. Since I heard no news of plane crashes, Im assuming she did. The plan was for her to call me on Monday to report in, but Ive realized that I will be on the road driving back to Los Angeles for a special staged reading of The Last Session as a fund raiser for GLAAD and I wont be home until Tuesday night (in time to vote...Al Gore needs every vote he can get!), so Wednesday will be the first opportunity to make voice contact across the planet.
Modern communication is really mind-boggling, you know? At 57, I grew up in the age of the telephone, but I do remember when people just didnt make long distance calls unless it was for an emergency. They were too expensive and you just didnt do it. Besides, mostly my own circle of friends, and that of my family, didnt extend too far beyond the boundaries of San Francisco.
I had always been intrigued by learning about other cultures. I grew up knowing about exchange programs (which came into existence after World War II), but those were always for the rich kids. I knew that I would never be able to travel to a foreign country. (My father died at age 72 without ever having been on an airplane.)
Our global perspective changed in 1981 when we started hosting foreign students. I felt that the limiting factor for me would be that...its no secret to readers of this journal...Im no housekeeper (do I hear giggling in Perth?). The idea of hosting and AFS student for a year was completely overwhelming. But when The Experiment in International Living came along with its 3-week homestay, I decided that even I could keep a house clean for three weeks (do I hear more giggling in Perth?) and so we decided to give it a try.
Ive talked about our exchange student experiences here before. We learned that it didnt matter what the house was like. What mattered were the relationships. And we formed many close friendship. But over and above the friendships, we learned about the world, and at the same time, technology made staying in touch easier. Letters could make it from California to Rio de Janeiro in a matter of days, instead of weeks. Telephone calls, while not exactly cheap, were at least reasonable (unless I overdid it, which I did at one point). And the quality of the connection was vastly improved.
When we first began speaking to Brasil there was always an echo and it was like the old short wave radio days. You didnt have to say over, but you had to remember to wait until the echo stopped before you tried to speak to the other person. It was very clear that this was a long distance.
A lot has changed in 20 years. Peggy has a low-cost phone plan which allows calling from Australia to be affordable. She called a few times before her arrival here and whats amazing is that youd never be able to tell that shes as far away from California as you can get without coming back. We have the Internet. And, if I ever get my camera set up, well be able to do video conferencing. Its the next best thing to being there.
Travel has become much more possible for everyone. I remember the first time we went to England. I was standing there outside Heathrow, waiting for a bus to take us to our hotel and just marveling that I was really in another country. I couldnt believe it. Since then weve traveled to several countries. Our kids have traveled to more. Its not cheap yet, but its definitely within the realm of possibility (and the full flights going everywhere show that its within the realm of possibility for more and more people!). No longer is international travel something reserved for the very rich. Despite the cost, I have every expectation that we will even get to Australia some day (do I hear gasps of horror from Perth?). I certainly would never have made that statement 20 years ago.
There are days when I really feel like an old fogey, sitting back ruminating in my oatmeal and talking about how things were in my day. But there really have been a lot of changes in this half century-plus that Ive lived. We went to a Halloween party the other night and I sat with a couple of other people. One of them is a teacher, who is slightly older than I am. Her students, trying to guess her age, asked her what she watched on Saturday mornings when she was a kid. The radio, she told them. The kids found it difficult to believe that she grew up before television. The three of us sat there and tried to think of all the things that we remembered from our childhood--things like actually watching radio, cause you were paying attention, but there was no screen to see. Black and white film because color wasnt available during the way. Massaging a blob of color into a white block of margarine before serving it. Mail delivery several times a day, especially during the holidays. I remember when hi fi (high fidelity) first came in and was the height of music technology and how excited my father was about it. I remember when it was such a big deal to buy a vinyl album with more than one song on it, instead of the old breakable 78s. (I also remember saying that CDs would never replace LPs). I remember when there was no pantyhose and you wore stockings with seams held up by girdles or garters. (And in that vein, I remember when I wouldnt be caught dead going downtown in San Francisco without high heels and probably without gloves and a hat!)
We are old, Father William (Im assuming this journal entry will inspire a note from DenverDoug!). But how fortunate that weve been able to see the progression of technology. Thanks to modern technology, we are now free to get to know and love people like Peggy who come into our lives for short periods of time, and then return home, because we know that technolgy will help us keep our relationships alive. Or, to quote one of Steves songs, We will always be connected to each other.
|created 11/4/00 by Bev Sykes|