Back in the day, we wrote letters. On paper. We knew that by the time our friend got the letter – even if we splurged on air mail postage – it would be outdated, but so what?
In the 1970’s, my husband and I were living in West Africa with our newborn, my parents’ first grandchild. I’d write to them faithfully, but by the time they responded to something I’d said in a letter to them (two weeks to get to them, two weeks for the reply to arrive), it took a bit of mental maneuvering to put together my statement (or question) and their reaction (or answer). For example:
I’d write: “Guess what! The baby got her first tooth.”
Then I’d get a reaction about a month later, during which time I’d written three or four more letters home: “That’s so exciting, did she cry? Did she drool a lot? Does she look different? Here’s what I used to do to soothe you when you got your teeth…..”
By the time I read the questions about crying and drooling, she’d gotten four more teeth and I honestly couldn’t remember.
I’m in something of the same position right now because I’m writing this on May 8, way ahead of time, because I leave for a trip tomorrow. You’ll read it on May 23, so all my present-tense statements will be better read in past tense. That kind of time-disconnect wasn’t particularly odd back then, it’s just the way things were. Now it’s a little odd. So let’s pretend we’re “back in the day.”
We’re leaving on a great trip tomorrow with friends of ours that you don’t know. First we’ll be staying in a house with them in Puglia, Italy – think OLIVE OIL – then we take an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik (Croatia’s a brand new country for me) and board a boat for some hiking and sailing along the coast. Back to Rome for one night, then home.
By the time we get home, it better be warm enough to plant our garden! You wouldn’t believe how weird this winter has been. Unnaturally warm, then plunging right down into freezing, and now gradually warming up again. Remember that magnolia in front of the house? The one that has bloomed for 32 years straight? This year, it produced buds, then blossoms…… and then came a killing frost. All the flowers died. Or so we thought. Now we have a regrowth, which delights me even more than the annual blossom-fireworks. I’m enclosing a photo.
I’ll write when I’m back and tell you about the trip. And I hope there will be a letter from you waiting for me!
Arrivederi and Dovidenja,
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