02 October, 2009

Following in footsteps

When I'm not packing boxes, donating objects to friends or shredding long out of date documents I have time to think about the forthcoming move. People ask if I'm excited and I am but I'm also a bit overwhelmed. San Francisco is a very long way from home. And family and friends.

But I remind myself that it's a lot closer than it used to be. I come from a family of travellers. For generations they have been leaving their homes to spend some time in far flung corners of the world. My great-grandmother was born in France and moved to London when she married, leaving her family in Havre. Reading her diaries I am struck at how she treated the Channel like a river to cross, which she did sometimes several times a year (this in the early years of the 20th century). She went to America, Africa and India in her life, all by ship on long slow journeys but as far as I can judge she was entirely undaunted by this. She communicated by letter and wire.

My grandfather spent the 1930s in India, leaving everyone he knew to go to Calcutta for work. The journey took 6 weeks by ship, so letters were slow to come and you can't say much in a telegram.

My mother went to live in Germany with my father during the mid-1960s. And though you could fly by then and telephone, you still had to go through the international operator to make a call. Her relatives congratulated her on my birth there by letter.

So now here we are with Skype, and chat, and blogs, and Twitter and Facebook. People respond so fast, Tom can watch Emilia blow her candles out from California to Hampshire. It takes 10 and a half hours to fly to San Francisco, not several weeks by ship. It is a long way but I will be able to call my mother and what is more see her. Who thought that would happen? How very Star Trek (and I mean the Shatner/Nimoy version).

2 comments:

daharja said...

It feels weird to finally be moving, doesn't it?

We found, when we moved to NZ, that everything went really slowly until the final few days, then it was a rush that went by so fast the days felt like minutes!

I hope it all goes well for you. Keep blogging when you get there!

Ruth said...

Wow, you really put that into perspective. I wish you well on your move to the U.S. I hear it can be quite a feat to go through all those immigration papers. My sister is moving from Atlanta to the Netherlands, and she is going through it the other way.

Don, my husband, greatly admires you and your blog. I agree with Daharja and hope you'll keep blogging.