Not Quite Touching

8 Dec

It usually starts with a text message.  “You home?” One of us will type.  And then the other answers, and we start texting back and forth.  Usually it is me who writes…. “Want to talk? The texting is starting to bother me.” At times she is too busy and just wants to text.  But many times she types, “Sure.” Sometimes she initiates the move to a face-to-face chat. 

When we decide to chat, we both quickly move to our computers and click on the appropriate  ap.  “Ready,” she types.  I respond, “Yes.”  And she calls me.  Until I see her face, I feel a little anxious.  But then she appears, life size, on my computer screen.  And for a moment I feel as though she has entered the room.   There she is, my daughter, Lara, in my family room with me.  But at the same time she is thousands of miles away sitting in an apartment in Ramat Gan, Israel. 

The first time I ever chatted with Lara this way, I felt like I was in the middle of a science fiction movie.  Of course, like many people my age, the first time I had ever seen anything like this was in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  And now I was doing the same thing: chatting over the internet, without even a time lag, with my daughter.

It is amazing.  She has walked her laptop through her apartment so that I can see where she lives.   I have met her boyfriend, Zak, as well as her roommate, Bar, on line.  We have celebrated birthdays and Mother’s Day while chatting.  I have opened my presents so she could see. 

We have chatted while I ate lunch, and she at dinner: private mother-daughter conversations that keep us up-to-date on family and personal events.

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And last week we lit the Hanukkah candles together.  It was afternoon here and night in Israel.  I received a text message: “You can light the candles with me.”   Of course I said, yes.

It was almost as if she was here.   But we were not quite touching.

I was glad that I could hear her sing the blessings (I tried singing with her, but the timing was off by just a second); that I could watch her light each candle  (I could almost smell the wax).  But at the same time, I was wistful….wishing that we were truly together.

When she talks to me from the computer, my cat, Misty, jumps up on the desk to be part of the conversation.  In the beginning, when Lara called, Misty would rub up against the screen and walk behind it to look for Lara.  Over time, the cat has realized that Lara is not in the room.  She cannot touch her.  But she can listen to her voice, and purr.

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