“Hello darling! What time is it?”
“Oh, late. I just wanted to hear your voice. Mmm, what are you wearing?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know…a big smile now that I’m talking to you.”
Remember telephones? The mystery, the illusion you could sustain talking to your love while they were far away?
Now we have FaceTime.
“Oh! Hello, yeah I’m just coming into the kitchen here” (catch glimpse of self in laptop screen and quickly block available light source to hide bags under eyes and eyeglasses sliding down nose. Try to look into husband’s eyes and avoid sneaking glances at my smaller image in corner of screen but surreptitiously adjust lighting in room, struggling to remember which is my better side) “There we go! How’s everything?”
It makes sense to use the technology available to us, right? It’s free, and immediate. It’s what we dreamed of growing up watching The Jetsons: “And someday, people will talk to each other on tv screens!”
I imagine someone will tell me about this marvelous program that is the equivalent of vaseline over the lens and glamour lighting that makes both parties appear twenty years younger and extremely well-rested and dressed by a stylist. (I don’t have the heart to search for it. We’re married, not dating here. But please let me know if you know anything.)
I listen and talk while trying to eat a slice of pizza just out of frame. “Where are you?” No illusions here, I can clearly see the Premier Inn headboard. Feel sad, thinking of all our times in Premier Inns.
“There’s the kitchen!” he says, and sounds sad himself. “Travel” as glamorous illusion is often better than the reality. “Home” as concept is a movie set that sits in darkness when you’re not there — the way a baby believes its mother stops existing when she’s out of the line of vision — but the actual sight of the untidy counter, amplifier in the corner, all signs of life going on without you, well they make you feel that distance.
Another problem with FaceTime is that aside from restaurant meals, encounter sessions and prison visits, there is something unnatural about sitting face to face with your spouse. We spend a lot more time side by side: in the car, on walks, eating dinner on the couch in front of (insert name of whatever series here), on stage even, or in bed reading and listening to the Archers.
There is a plus side to all this. That reunion you used to have, when you finally see each other after weeks apart but one of you has just been on a transatlantic flight, the other’s had a hellish drive through rush hour traffic and when you run to embrace, the first thing you say is “It’s so good to see you – poor thing, you look exhausted.”
After the flat screen, vicious lighting, bad timing, crap angles – the real thing looks wonderful.
Amy solo shows
- Sat Apr 9 Hoboken, NJ Guitar Bar Jr
- Sat Apr 16 Northampton, MA Parlor Room
- Fri Apr 29 Amarillo, TX Golden Light
- Sun May 8 Cambridge, MA Atwood’s Tavern