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In which I fall out of the social network ...

MY friend Laura left for Canada a year ago. She's now back, citing irreconcilable differences with the Maple Country. This bodes well for me. I've lost half of my friends to emigration and my selfish side badly wants a partner in crime. Laura sent me a text message over the weekend to let me know she had officially returned, that she was safely back on Irish soil.

I was expecting there to be a certain reverence to this text. I was expecting her to philosophise about the road being life, and life being what you make it. This was a serious event after all. A homecoming. A reunion.

I didn't expect it to read: "What time you going to yoga tonight? x" If I'm not mistaken, that was one of the last texts I received from her before she left. A year ago.

It's like we have both been cryogenically frozen for the last 365 days.

Then again, it goes without saying that there is nothing else to say. There are no wedding rings, baby bumps or flash new pads to showcase. We are both in good health and good humour.

GLOBETROTTERS

I know she won't subject me to photos of her climbing mountains, rucksack proudly attached to her back; her body positioned in that purposeful first-Patagonia-next-the-world stance preferred by first-time globetrotters.

She knows I won't subject her to the minutiae of my 9-5 existence; stories from my nephew's baptism or my aunt's recent success at Slimming World.

And so it could be said that nothing has changed. Except the size of our arses. Well, mine has anyway. She claims hers is huge too, but I've yet to see it for myself.

This is what we discussed on our first phone conversation in a year. That, and the craic we had the night before she took off. We bartered our body woes and mapped out Operation Hot Bod 2012... and I made a mental note to ask her if she'd, you know, found herself, or whatever it is you're supposed to do when you travel, when I finally spoke to her in person.

I'm not very good at staying in touch with friends when they emigrate. Actually, that suggests that I would like to be better at it. I don't. Because I just don't get it.

I don't social network because I'm much too private (said the column writer) and I favour the magic of a spontaneous connection. I don't Skype because I don't want to have to put on my face and tidy my hair before I make a phone call. I don't instant message because I find it too imposing. "Are you on Hey Tell?" Laura asked before she left. For the uninitiated, it's an app that essentially turns your phone into a walkie talkie. "I most certainly am not," I answered. I prefer old school communication. I'd love to be back in the days when billets-doux were entire life chapters.

"Dear John, the winter thaw is in my bones but my love for you keeps me warm. John Jr looks more like you every day and he says he wants to be just like his Daddy when he grows up...:

These days John can send his missus almost instantaneous pictures of his penis should he have the desire, along with numerous texts, photographs, videos, Facebook messages and Tweets. Come the evening he can engage in a Skype session.

Imagine, one day's communication between a couple today would have comprised an entire relationship 100 years ago.

Modern communication continues to astound me. My sister and I spent Sunday with my ex's mother. She has three children in America now (my ex included). It transpires that there was a recent falling out among the trio.

The bone of contention was a family-size pack of King crisps that Mammy Dearest had sent them in the post.

REUNION

Long story short: one of them ate his way through almost every pack. And so, despite the 3,000 miles that separates her and her children, she was called upon to referee Kingcrisp-gate and replenish the unfortunate party with what she hilariously calls "Taytochips".

These days we have the luxury of staying in touch 24/7 with Generation Emigration, but it takes the magic out of the reunion. I love reconnecting with friends after months -- or years -- and discovering how their travels have shaped their identities, how their minds have opened and their faces are now etched with their adventures.

I particularly like it when they come back the proud owner of a new persona. I remember a friend who had just returned from her travels joining us for a drink. She was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt with a dolphin on the front.

She sat in the lotus position (We were in a pub. In Stillorgan). She told us about the importance of connecting with nature and chided us for wasting our lives in the pub. I hasten to add that we were 17 at the time and she had just come back from a week in Dingle. She was wasting her youth with us the following weekend. As for me, I've teased her about her 'hippy weekend' ever since.

At least when I see Laura I'll have the privilege of really seeing how her travels have shaped her person... and her arse.


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