I have bashed social media, I have spoken about the bad practices in marketing, I wrote about mental health. I was so caught up in trying to alter people’s perspective around these subjects, that I missed a huge event: Technology advancing forward. I just took it for granted. I am perplexed by how far technology has come. It grew in baby steps with us that we missed to see how far it has come.
1994, I was eight-years-old. I remember how my mum and I would drive for 20 minutes to my uncle’s house in Lebanon to be able to receive a call from my Dad who lived in Kuwait at precisely 8 p.m. on the land line. My mum would get to speak to him for exactly nine minutes and spare me the last minute. He called us using international call cards that had a 10 minute cap and cost 6 KD. Cheap today, but for a struggling family like ours back then, it was a luxury.
The other way I spoke to my dad consisted of me sitting at our coffee table and jotting down all the things I want to tell my him on a draft paper, before structuring it and locking it down on fancy paper, which I would often decorate with the “good behavior stickers” I got from my teachers. My mum would then have to drive for an hour to drop her and my letters to a friend who is returning to Kuwait from vacation.
My dad would visit us once a year. His trip was something we planned. We made sure all the family knew so we planned his vacation down to the minute. We would decide who will be receiving him at the airport and who would get the food ready at home. My dad had to re-confirm his airplane seat twice or thrice prior to the trip driving 30 or 40 minutes from his house all the way to Kuwait City to the travel agent’s office.
Then came the return date, which often meant tears and sadness at home, my mum would hug my dad for 10 minutes and I would do the same. It was agony disguised under “opportunity”. That was my dad’s sacrifice and ours.
They were magical times that we lived in.
Six years ago, I moved in to Kuwait. Yet, only recently, I have realized how far things have changed. At any given moment, I can pick up a tiny small device that lives in my pocket and video call my queen back home, and speak with her for hours. I get to see her face, hear her voice and ask her for guidance as I attempt to cook a Lebanese dish to impress my Argentinean wife. I do it all at almost no direct cost.
My mum, who once dreaded the day my father has to travel, and lived for that one day a year when he returns, now replaced that behavior by a simple kiss on the cheek to her only son and the phrase “see you soon”. I travel so often back home that it just transformed the situation from “he lives far” to “he lives just under two hours away.”
I can book a trip on the spot wherever I am on the earliest flight out without having to worry about any logistics other than: How fast can I finish the job at hand to head to the airport?
In that sense, I see that what was once a cause of grief and sadness (migration), has today been softened with technology. I find myself unaware that I am completely unaware that I live in an entirely different region than my mum, on the contrary, I often think of it as just a two hour trip.
I lost my awesome dad four years ago. But I have often felt that I lost him way earlier because of distance, and while that is something I will live with forever, I can rest assured that, at least, with my mum… I’ll always see her “soon.” And for this, I will always be grateful.
Featured image courtesy of George Tarabay.