My children – bless them – live with their phones for ever in their hands to keep in touch. Yes very much in touch – not only with people they meet daily and are friends with now; but also with people they were with at school, university etc.
How different that is to the way relationships worked in my younger years. People moved into your life depending on your employment and where you were living. To move on to a new job and location really was quite a wrench. Settling down in the new area meant setting up a new set of friends. Unfortunately apart from Christmas cards there were very few contacts with your past.
If I ever did meet up with anyone from my past I actually really appreciated it. Nothing better than catching up and it was probably down to the large amount of wine involved but those catch up events were full of ho ho ho – good old belly laughs.
What a difference the Internet has made though and it came in at a really great time for me – because I was able to not just say goodbye to great friends for ever – but because contact was going to be possible when we came home from working abroad. (still no idea about Facebook of course – more about that in a minute) The point was that I was able to follow up on one of the most important periods of my life – my Oman years – rich with wonderful friendships and stories galore.
I was out working abroad in Muscat, Oman. I was helping set up a nurse training school at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and my wife was a Sister in charge of a children’s ward. Our daughter Zoe was just one years old when we moved out there and Tom was actually born out in Muscat.
The hospital was being built and we were out there helping to get the new building set up with staff and commissioned. The maternity unit was opened literally the day before my son Tom was born and he was patient number 000000002 and was really lucky. We only just got my wife Babs to the unit in time – no time popping that pod. If the unit had not been open we would have needed to drive some distance to the nearest maternity unit – in fact we wouldn’t have made it.]
Anyone who has worked abroad as an expat will tell you of the friendships in that situation. Incredible!!
Families totally live together and share everything. In Oman – we would get away at the weekends hundreds of miles in four wheel drives across the desserts, mountains, wadis, and coast. No tents – just sleeping on camp beds looking up at stars. I am getting nostalgic just thinking through some crazy lovely experiences.
The other thing was that the expats were from all over the world. So even though we were there for eight years it was obvious that one day we would have to say long tearful goodbyes.
To name just a few: – Helen and Gordon to Australia; Hilary and Jim to Portugal; Asbjorn and Elsbeth to Denmark; Deborah and Andy – USA; Murdo and Maggie – WELL – OH?? they landed in Poole, Dorset just down the road – very nice.
The great thing is that we have kept in touch. Not to chat daily on Skype – in fact that is rare. No it is social media contact – and when it happens it is magic. Doesn’t have to be too much. Just being able to contact easily is all it needs.
However – what about Facebook. I have really got that youngster attitude towards this social media. I get it and use it. I had a phone call from my daughter Zoe this morning, who is currently living in Manchester with her boyfriend Tom. They have been cleaning their flat this morning because a University friend from three years ago is coming over from Finland to stay. Last week Zoe and Tom went to Madrid for the weekend to stay with a friend from university days. Social media is really leading to social mobility of friendships.
However – I am not a youngster and like many other users my age we are adapting social media in other ways.
Above – I mentioned that in the old days – during my young adult years – there were times when you moved on in your life to a new job, that friendships just had to be forgotten. Sometimes those friendship were important at the time. Sadly I only know of the location of two of my school friends – and yet those friendships then were mega important! I really don’t think that will happen any more now that the internet exists and relationships can be much more flexible. There is almost a second level of friendships – important but with different expectations.
What is different for us older facebook users is the ‘What the hell – what have I found here’ gobsmacked moment.
What if one of your old friends surfaces on Facebook out of the blue – many – MANY years later.
Six months ago I was flicking through Facebook when I saw a name that made jump. Kristina was training as a nurse when I knew her – and what a great character she is. She gave up nursing sadly because there was a family business that needed her on board. I say sadly because she was a good caring nurse who was incredible with the patients and a joy to work with and be around. We were friends and moved around in the same circle. Kristina is just a crazy, caring loving person. However – as always in those days we moved on in our directions. Contact stopped.
So what a surprise when I could just sit and catch up on Facebook – all about her brother – her mother had recently passed – but much to my delight I learned that she has recently married.
I haven’t actually contacted her yet – but I really need to say hello because a week or so ago I saw that Kristina and her husband have just been to Muscat Oman, and there is a picture of her husband at Al Bustan hotel. They certainly know how to live as the Al Bustan doesn’t come cheap – it is an amazing building. [I have some photos of it somewhere (somewhere is the word)].
Anyway all my old friends who have gone off of the radar – hope to chat to you soon if I can find you on Facebook. I don’t care where you live I will be off in my motor-home to say hello.
Now I had better say hello to Kristina on Facebook.