Distant friends

Today, a rainy and grey day, I left the cave of home and took the train to the city of St. Gallen an hour away, just so I could have brief conversations with my work colleagues/friends.

I like my co-workers, though very different from myself and one another, because they offer me human contact which a day off from work sitting alone at home cannot give me.

As much as I cherish my St. Gallen pals I feel saddened lately by the long-foreseen departure of my best friend Iain and his bride Samantha to a new life in faroff Australia this past week.

I am not yet such a child of the new modern age of instant world communications as to not feel that their departure is a lot like that of the immigration to North America of my British and Irish ancestors.

When families would gather at harbourside to wave the ships good-bye for them it was akin to saying farewell to the dearly departed deceased.

When those emigrants left it was not at all a surety if they would survive the voyage across the seas, not at all certain if they would survive in the strange new land, not at all known if those left behind would ever see the emigrants again.

Now I have been assured by my St. Gallen friends, all techno kids of this modern age, that with Skype and emails and Facebook there is no reason why contact can´t still be maintained with those resident faraway.

But for me these modern media tools seem lacking.

There is still something more comforting about a letter or postcard in one´s mailbox.

There is something more natural about answering the phone and hearing the familiar tones of your loved ones and not needing visual aids to picture in your mind their facial expressions.

Now Facebook is not to be disparaged for it has been through Facebook I have been reunited with those I attended high school with.

Facebook has allowed me to follow, kilometre upon kilometre, my cousin and good friend Steve as he walked, ran and rolled across Canada to raise money to keep kids in school.

Today he completed the course from coast to coast and I am very proud of him.

The Internet has allowed me to share in the joy of my Toronto friend Sumit and his wife Varsha as they raise their newborn son and share pleasantries with my American friends Reggie, Rolf and others resident in Freiburg.

Applications like Messenger and WhatsApp have reunited me with fellow Konstanz community college German language course survivor Nick and Quebec City St. Lawrence College pal Richard and keep me in touch with my wife away in Zürich most of the week.

But something feels missing…

Maybe it´s my age and my unfamiliarity with the recently acquired technology in my life.

All I know is I miss my distant friends and feel that no technology can truly replace their former presence in my life.

I wish I could feel brave in this new world of bytes, hits and posts.

My distant friends, you are truly missed.






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