The ExPat Diary: Counting the Miles

My Dad is old school: the no-internet, just-got-a-cellphone-a-month-ago kind of old school. He’s heard of Facebook and Google, but has never actually used either. The cell phone was a big step, but talk to him about the Internet and you’ll receive a most hostile response. Sure, he might be a bit behind the times, but sometimes I envy his freedom from checking email every five minutes…or ever.

Dad playing with his last technological leap: The MP3 Player

Knowing this about my Dad made the following conversation, transcribed to the best of my memory, rather mind blowing:

Dad: So, you know that thing where I can talk to you and see you and you can talk to me and see me and it’s on the computer and there is Internet?

Me: Are you talking about video chat?

Dad: Yeah, I need to get that. What do I do?

Me: Well, first we need to get you a computer with a webcam, and also set you up with Internet access.

Dad: Ok, well when you and Alex come to town we’ll do that. You won’t be home as much after you move, so this way I’ll be able to see your face!

That’s when it hit me: I am moving so far away that I have driven Dad to the Internet. The man who said he would never ‘go online’ is now seriously contemplating navigating the waters of video chat. Sure it took me moving across the world to do it, but still, it’s major progress.

Dad and me enjoying the pre-Internet days

The fact is Australia is very far away from St. Louis. Technically, according to Google Maps, it is 15,526 miles away, including 2,756 miles of kayaking across the Pacific Ocean. I remember once thinking that Boston was far away. 1,192 miles seems small in comparison (with way less kayaking).

The way Google Maps sees it, kayaking is the only way to go. I plan to take a more direct and aeronautic route.

So the distance and time is sinking in. I will be 14 hours ahead – in the future! When I wake up, nearly everyone I know will be going to bed the night before. It’s strange to think of it in those terms, but its true. And as exciting as this adventure is, I worry about keeping in touch with my family and friends. Will the distance be to much to talk regularly? Will friends fall away? Will I be terribly homesick? What important things will I miss? The days of jumping on a plane and being home in two hours is over…

How Dad still sees me, video chat or not

Which brings us back to the Internet. It wasn’t that long ago when all you could do was mail a letter and wait for a response. There was no video chat. If you wanted to see a face, you needed to send a picture. News from loved ones took weeks to reach you. Times have changed, and as much as I mildly ignore Facebook and hate my attachment to my email, I’m so glad those things exist. It’s amazing that I’ll be able to see and talk to Dad, instantly, from 15,526 miles into the future. I’m just glad he’s jumping into the world of the Internet…or at least willing to put a toe in the water.

Me & Dad


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