I don’t quite know how to start this post other than to say that I spent several hours this afternoon alternating between (a) worrying that Tony might be dead, and (b) telling myself not to be so ridiculous.
Fortunately, as it happens, the ‘ridiculous’ thesis was the right one. Having forgotten that we were (jointly) supposed to be somewhere else, Tony was in the cinema with his phone switched off watching “2012” (“don’t waste your time on it”, he says … albeit in a slightly higher-than-normal voice ).
Anyway: this all gave rise to a flood of reflection that I’m still processing.
I already knew how much I loved Tony; so it didn’t take the thought of his (permanent) absence to bring home to me what it all meant … although it did make it very physical.
It also made me think a bit about expectations, and how they’ve evolved. I was worried – mortally so – because (unusually) I hadn’t heard from him in 8 hours. 8 whole hours. Then I thought about some of my aunts – who set out from Scotland, bound for Canada or Australia, in the late 40s or early 50s … a time when they still didn’t really know if they’d ever see or even hear from their close family ever again. Ever. Getting on that ship was cutting the tie. The symbolism of all those ribbons … ship-to-shore … tightening as the liner pulled away, then breaking, one by one …
If it’s hard for someone of my generation to understand the gravity of the choice those passengers were making, how much more distant must it be for my nieces and nephews? And how quickly and easily have I settled into the new age?
It’s not that long ago (is it …?) when I was a child, or in my early teens, and we had to book (yes ‘book’!) a phone call, at Christmas, to my aunt in Canada, and to my brother in South Africa. Imagine: to have to book a phone call (and it cost a fortune, to a family of modest means) to a foreign country, days in advance. And there was a stilted quality to our conversations, because … well … we could only speak to each other once a year.
I don’t mourn those days. Really I don’t. But if there’s anything nice to take away from my experience of today, it’s the realization that distance is now measured in seconds, in minutes, or in hours; rather than in months, or in years. The only slightly sad thing, from my perspective, is that I’m only 46 … and it feels like already I’m the bridge to another world.