An advantage to existing in the modern era is the ability to see one’s loved one while conversing on the phone, whether s/he be in an opposing state, shoreline, or country. To witness a surprised facial expression as it happens in real time or to watch as a tearful eye dries out once sidelined by an unexpected joke, is to be present for a moment otherwise missed, were it not for the miniature microphones and camera lenses that serve as the unseen appendages on our phones, hand-helds, and computer screens. Luckily afforded the choice to reach out by using such technology, we find ourselves not just inching closer to a world once envisioned by “Jetsons” creators William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, and supervisor Ray Patterson, but sitting closer to those we love so much- without ever having boarded an airplane.
I took such a journey on Wednesday, February 25, managing to virtually cross the Midwestern prairie and to land in the San Francisco Bay area, to “sit” across the table from an 85-year old gentleman whose 95-year old husband was asleep in the next room. Although we had shared words previously over the phone- only without the involvement of the aforementioned arms and legs of modern day computer apps- the moment he learned to turn his camera on and to accept the incoming call became a special instant, bridging the gap between his home there and my small, Midwestern studio. Given the surprise of seeing each others’ faces for the first times in our lives, we talked like good friends, discussing a personal history with his beloved that started shortly after WWII, when they met aboard an abandoned lumber schooner that had been converted into living spaces for those wishing to remain ashore.
Still, despite the contextual significance of the lives about which he spoke, a favorite personal moment availed itself when the older of the two, now risen from his nap, was seen in the background heading for their patio, to retrieve a watering can to feed their indoor plants. Called to the computer screen to meet me, a new friend, he stood behind his lover of 65 years, grinning and looking happy for the introduction. Then, unexpectedly, he stepped from behind. The smile growing on his face as he- a Honolulu native who served in WWII as an Army MP at Schofield Barracks- momentarily took the focus from his loved one, he proclaimed that he was more of a mutt than purely Hawaiian. But to honor a tradition of welcome that he learned while growing up near the white sandy beaches, he began to manipulate his arms and legs in a way that only a computer app like Skype would ever have me see. For right before me, wearing a red plaid shirt and khaki pants, the former MP-Turned-Southern-Pacific Draftsmen did a brief, but well-done Hula Dance. And I never needed to buy an airplane ticket to see it.
Photography Credits: Skype Logo, The Skype Website. View Date 3/6/15 Link: http://www.skype.com/en/
Socker Watering Can, The IKEA Website. View Date: 3/6/15 Link: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70155673/