There are so many different ways to measure distance, more than just in terms of time zones, travel time, and travel distance. Furthermore, there are even more ways that these different measures of distance combine to distort, amplify or even diminish physical distance. There are airplanes, phones, and emails that diminish physical distance. I can’t even fathom what it was like for my great grandparents when they left their families to emigrate to the U.S., never to see their family members or hear their voices ever again.
Luckily, I don’t have that problem. I go home at least twice a year, something that is an essential necessity for my own sanity. Nevertheless, I do experience the distance all the time. For example, I only speak with my parents about once a month. This has nothing to do with a lack of affection. Fortunately, I don’t need to speak with my family everyday to know that I am important to them. I just know it. But there are also real, concrete reasons why speaking on the phone is complicated.
The obvious reason is the six hour time difference between Madrid and Washington, DC. But this time difference is enhanced by other cultural factors. In the Spanish Mama Boy Society and workplace, it is very commom (sometimes even painfully common to witness) for people to engage in personal phone calls while at work. Sure, I understand, in Spain people are at work literally all day long (from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm), and therefore often take the liberty of tending to personal matters during the work hours. In the U.S this simply doesn’t happen. You work at work. You are not supposed to make or receive personal calls, and if so, they should be held to the bare minimum.
So imagine: my parents don’t get home until at least 7:00pm in the evening. That is 1:00am in Madrid, and by that time (unlike Spaniards), I am already in la-la land sleeping it off. Of course, I could call them say around midday in Spain (meaning first thing in the morning on the East Coast), but that would cost me a fortune. International calls from a mobile phone are pretty pricey over here. In other words, there really is no good time of the day for me to call or for them to call me (even though, hint hint, they can call me at work without anybody thinking I have an umbilical detachment disorder).
So although I can often get around this problem by calling them on the weekend, it is rather difficult to call during the week, especially when you just want to say “Happy Birthday”. Also, my parents don’t like to answer the home phone, and usually don’t answer it … “it’s probably just another telemarketer”.
But if I really feel like talking to my mom, I call her cell phone or communicate via email. With my father it is more difficult because he doesn’t use email (her prefers writing in long hand) and he doesn’t use his cell phone. Plus, I misplaced his work number.
At the end of the day, there are only three possibilities: call and leave a message, write a blog post, or both. Yesterday, I called and left a message. And today, I am writing a post, so I don’t want to hear that “nobody writes the colonel” (which I happened to finish reading on Friday).
And here’s the post: