Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Global connections:

Lucia discovers Flamenco but it's cards, letters & photos that help bind connections with family and friends.
By Anita Bulan
Date: May 18 2013
Editor Rating:

“You’re not coming with us,” she said.  “Only Baba and I are going to the airport. See you next week.”

With that, I was unceremoniously dumped out of the car. By my only child. My husband and daughter were on their way to the airport, headed for Spain and a family reunion of sorts. I was staying behind in New York, with plans to reunite myself with solitude (and uninterrupted sleep).

Unable to take extra time off work, my husband (Lucia's Baba) and Lucia travelled to Spain without me, to meet with his father and sister from Alice Springs, and another sister and her family, who live in the Netherlands. Three elements of a family, from literally all corners of the globe, meeting in yet another country. To say Lucia, aged three, was excited is an understatement.

Lucia’s grandpa, aunts, uncle, and baby cousin were, of course, apparently the highlight (if you exclude her new addiction to all things Flamenco), and she still hasn’t stopped talking about them. It’s wonderful that she gets to help her cousin walk around the plazas of Madrid, admire her 13-year-old aunt’s wardrobe (yes, already, at three years old), and hang out on her grandfather’s lap while eating local delicacies.

I remember parts of my first big international trip to visit family in Europe. I was five. Lucia is a little younger than that, but I hope the photos they each took (she knows how to operate a digital camera) will help keep these memories alive for her.

While it would be glorious to be able for all of us to jet off to exotic locations to meet with family and friends, more regularly - and affordably - we use VOIP or Skype to keep in touch with our Australian contingent.

While Lucia insists that we call grandparents, friends, cousins “on the computer,” when showtime comes she often will say nothing when faced with a gaggle of cooing relatives on a computer screen.

But she will often perform a virtual show-and-tell, presenting a slow and steady stream of toys, drawings, and knick-knacks from around the house to the audience on the other side of the world.

I don’t mind too much that she doesn’t want to talk ... it’s more important to me that she sees people and recognizes them as part of her family. My best friend and her son, almost two, will eat their breakfast in Melbourne while Lucia and I are just finishing our dinner in New York. Having never met her little boy, these are special moments to me, shared on the screen of a Mac.

But with all this technology, trips to amazing places, calls at all hours, the most valuable method of creating long-distance memories and bonds between my daughter and her family across the world is with cards and letters. Good old fashioned paper. Photos. Clippings. Ephemera. These can be kept, long after the calls cut out, the luggage is collected at airports, the internet connection fizzles.

There, in writing. Lucia’s connections with loved ones, far, far away from Brooklyn. And also for those still at home. From Granada, Spain, a postcard with two words: “Mama” and her name.

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