Growing up in the Caribbean in the 90s with limited technolgy meant that every day things like watching TV and taking photographs were a luxury.
I remember my class mates assuming that my family was rich because at one point, we had a TV and a telephone at our house. Part of the weekend culture in the town that I lived in, was that family, neighbors and friends would congregate at your home if you had a phone.
Receiving a call from ‘overseas’ meant that you were loved. There was a higher status associated with ties outside of the country especially if they provided any kind of help.
The unfortunate side effect was that there was no privacy and sometimes the disappointment of missing your call or not receiving one was a huge cross to bear.
Before we had a phone, I remember going over to a neighbors house and waiting, only half awkwardly with your host(ess). The longer we waited the more information about the community we collected as we caught up with whoever we were with. There was a huge sense of common belonging there.
The one thing we has to share was that we were waiting for a call from “foreign”. That in of itself could be something to brag about as there were many immigrants who simply lost touch with their families or over estimated the American Dream so they could not afford to call / spend money on phone cards. We didn’t have any idea what phone cards costed, but we assumed it was a lot.
The calls that were the worst to witness were those that were relaying news of a death in the family. I remember some of those than I remember what I ever spoke to my Mother about in one of those calls around that time.
Now, I’ve been living in America for more than ten years and I have to admit it, I’m attached to my HTC One. It’s hard to imagine that I came from a place where I had such limited access until we got our own home phone (then we became a hostess home for people to wait for their calls) to feeling like my a phone is an extension of myself.
I’m trying to put my phone down more and life more organically but it’s very difficult. I mourn the lost art of hand written letters and have decided to start writing my friends and family.
I feel like I’m at the end of The Alchemist.