At the risk of turning this into a Facebook blog, I need to share a realization I just had.
I was reading a Facebook wall post from my half-sister in response to my query about a drink they serve in the bars at the University of Manchester, where she attends school. My husband and I recently hosted a friend of his for a few days who also goes to Manchester but is staying in the U.S. for the summer, and we were talking about the official drink of Manchester, a vile/amazing (depending who you ask) concoction called the Green Monster that involves blue curacao, cider, schnapps and probably anything other liquor you have handy. She described them as “fairly vile, but in a good way.”
As I finished reading her comment, something struck me. Through Facebook, I have been able to stay in touch with my siblings and cousins in England that I rarely get to see (and, in the case of the cousins, just met for the first time this past spring). My father is on Facebook, but only nominally since he doesn’t have time to keep up with it. My brother, of course, is on Facebook, and so is my sister-in-law.
Over the past week, independent of one another, the last two pieces of the puzzle came together. My husband, compelled by some high school buddies of his he got together with last week, finally signed up for Facebook. “It’s how we all stay in touch with each other,” his friends said. Then, on Sunday, I brought my mom my old laptop. She recently got Verizon FIOS — upgrading from dial-up — but her computer’s Windows 98 wouldn’t work with the hip new connection. My old Thinkpad, however, does the trick. With a proper internet connection, she was finally able to get on Facebook in a meaningful fashion without unnecessary frustration.
And, well, that’s everyone. I know it might sound hokey, but it’s comforting for me to finally see everyone in one place, for the first and only time ever, even if that “place” is just a series of tubes where they’re not even all interacting with each other anyway. However virtual the gathering place is, for me, it’s a place all the same.
I mean, I have to take what I can get. There will never be a family reunion. There will never be awkward moments between mom’s side of the family and dad’s side of the family. No weird rivalries or jealousies, embarrassing moments or whispered observations. No “Meet the Fockers.” No competing for my affection, jockeying for my favor.
These people are quite different from one another, separated by geography, culture, upbringing and a host of other contexts. But the one thing they all have in common, strange as it is to believe sometimes, is me.