Virtually yours.

January 30, 2011 § 16 Comments

Your words come through the ether and appear on this screen.  Black on white, as if you are no part of the world that contains the trees outside my window, the dog asleep on my floor.  You shimmer in a parallel universe of over-excited electrons.

A moment in the real world--delivered virtually.

You claim to send posts from your car, your desk, the cereal aisle at the store, but you might as well be reporting from a space capsule circling the planet.

No matter how hard I reach toward you, I can’t touch you.

You send me this  : ) 

I get it.  You’re smiling.

If your real smile were that simple you would be sitting on a bench in the sun, drooling.  Your real smile is subtle, complicated.  Sad as well as happy, it proves that you are human.

: ) makes happiness generic.  Impersonal.  One-size-fits-all.  As nourishing as a bag of Cheetos.


You’re laughing?   The silence in this room is broken only by the quiet whir of the fan in my computer.  I miss your laugh.  Your voice.   The silences between your words.

Let me fix you a cup of coffee, make you a sandwich, show you my garden, sing you a song, give you a hug.

Maybe L8r. 

Later?  I stare at the screen and wonder if later is just another word for never.   If I could see your face I’d know.  Your eyes don’t  lie.  But if I could see your face I wouldn’t be reading your black-on-white excuse, as sharp and crisp as a man in a tux.

Maybe L8r?

How about now?  We’ll drink coffee, strong coffee.  The thick china mugs will warm our hands.  We’ll laugh out loud and the corners of your eyes will crinkle.

I know why you are not here–and why I am not there.

Too far away.

Too busy.

Too tired.

Too hassled.

Too self-absorbed.

Too caught up with the “to do” list that has everything on it but “live.”

I know all that, but I still want to talk to you.  Face to face.



This is written for absent friends and family–I miss you guys–and for the human family, that sometimes forgets, as mammals we need the comfort of contact, and we need it within easy reach.


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§ 16 Responses to Virtually yours.

  • I so identify with your post, Adrian. Our four children arrived on this earth in a hurry and left our home, city — quarter of the country — in much the same haste. With one child in Colorado, one in San Diego, a third in Connecticut, my husband and I in Florida and the forth child about to move to New York City, it’s as if my family are pool balls and someone has hit us so hard we scattered. Recently a friend told me she had all three daughters home and sleeping under her roof for Christmas. “I feel so safe when they are all home,” she said.
    I think nature made us pack animals like lions and wolves. We need to laze against each other, share the warmth of our bodies and our food in the comfort of the many years we’ve spent together. A plastic screen can’t even come close.


    • The departure of children is so surprising. There is no preparing for it. When our daughter, Josie, moved north she left her car in our driveway. I can’t tell you how many times I rounded the corner, saw the car and felt my heart lift before I remembered, the car remained but the girl was gone.

      Josie has consoled us with a grandson, but we still miss her. Sometimes it is a physical ache.

      You’re right, we need to laze against each other. If our lesser selves ruled we’d beg them to stay.


  • lesleehorner says:

    Adrian, this is so beautiful. I am such an in person person and I spend so much of my time at this computer screen. But hey, at least I haven’t started texting yet!!

    OK, off to go share this on my FB pages!


  • The eight years I lived in Brasil, I got to call Mom and Dad each Sunday. I’d make a collect call, which they wouldn’t accept. Ten minutes later they called me – about 70% cheaper! How glad I was to hear their voices. Sometimes the phone is just the next best thing.



    • Yes, if the choice is between virtual contact and none at all I say, thank God for technology.

      Did everyone do the collect call trick? We thought we were getting away with something, but maybe it was universal, in which case Ma Bell probably had it factored into a spread sheet somewhere.


      • Johnson Wood says:

        My mother-in-law disapproved saying we were cheating the phone company. All of my protests about the wealth of AT&T availed nothing. She would always accept the call.


  • ksk says:

    Ironic too that your daily visits with boobah are virtual. And that somewhere in your post, the computer told me it was sent at 11:32pm on Jan 30th. I am quite certain I was reading it at 7:00pm earlier that same day. I take it simply as evidence that words are the tesseract. The closest means of soul transport. They magnify the ache and offer salve at the same time. Thank you for a wonderful post.


    • The WordPress day starts well ahead of ours (they are based somewhere distant and myserious like Albania).

      Yes, I definitely believe in the power of words but when it comes to relating to another human being they have to work awfully hard to make up for the absence of the nonverbal cues we send. Words can satisfy the mind, and in small measure the heart, but they can never replace a simple hug.

      Thanks for the response Kary.


  • See you later alligator
    In awhile crocodile is the
    that I love.

    It is sung
    With all the accompanying senses in play.

    this clever (or, GR8T) post
    reminds me how grateful we are, with grandnephew & grandniece faaaar off, to receive silly in the snow photos through the laptop –

    with college kid faaaar off to enjoy multiple ways, courtesy of pixels & such of substitue visiting

    I am not as on call & fast-wired as many folks are these days, but when my dear hubby was overnite unexpectedly in the ER in the first month of this new yr. (with good results, thanks! ) I was grateful for each of our cellphones, which were texted to the fullest, bestest use.

    Now I’ll leave the laptop & enjoy my morning stretches, which Ginger the cat here does without even thinking To Do List.


    • Absolutely true. Virtual contact beats no contact.

      You are smart to watch Ginger the cat for a reality check. Without that to-do list she is a creature of the moment.

      I’m sorry to hear that you and Paolo had another scare! Sheesh, you guys really deserve a break.


  • tgumster says:

    It is only virtually that I know Eva Cassidy, and it is the only way I will ever know her, virtually.

    Whenever and as often as I choose, she sings from “Over the Rainbow” while shuffling through “Autumn Leaves” on the edge of “Fields of Gold.”

    “Imagine” virtually, and I do.


    • Yes, and William Shakespeare left only that trail of words for us to follow into his mind. A very old technology, the book, but it does the same job. I am grateful that we can know virtually those we would otherwise not know at all–I am even vain enough to hope that my virtual self will be familiar to readers of my books after I am gone–but for those we really know and cherish I hope we will make the effort to be together, in the same room, on the same couch–and that we will be drinking good strong coffee!


      • tgumster says:

        Your bittersweet reminder to hold our dears close and often is a virtual wake-up call.

        I may tap, keyboard or jot on a typewriter, computer, or piece of paper but the hug is ethereal, if always.

        Indeed, I smell coffee….


  • Susan Stockdale says:

    Your thoughtful article really spoke to me, Adrian. It’s so tender. It reminds me of a comment my brother made when he was dying of cancer a few years ago. He spent a lot of time in bed, too exhausted to do anything but lie there and read. One day I asked him what he missed most about his old, pre-cancer life, and he said “being touched.”

    Of course, I touched him, all of us who loved him touched him, rubbed his feet, etc – but I think he still missed the physical interaction he had with people before he became isolated in bed.

    Before he became sick, we were at a party together. I just walked over and gave him a huge bear hug – an all-encompassing, full-on embrace, for no particular reason. I’m so glad I did that. That hug felt so good, and I think of it often.


    • The responses to my posts often make me want to cry–like this one. I’m so glad you have that hug to remember.

      It’s hard to touch those we love as they fade. It is like they are no longer themselves, but a shadow of who they were. How do you give someone who is ill a casual hug? Nothing is casual at the end of life, every interchange is fraught with meaning.

      Thanks for reminding me to forget all that and just hug!


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