When you live so far away from your family and friends, and when said family and friends are spread out all over the world, you have to find creative ways to stay in touch. Jason's family is on the east coast. My mom and the majority of my extended family are in Indiana. My dad is in Texas. My brother is in California. We're a military family with military friends; since living here in Germany we've had friends in England, Guam, South Korea, and Hawaii. The time difference between here and all those theres makes phone calls a little difficult. The good times to call there are not good times to make calls here. The good times to call here are not good times to make calls there. So we've had to adapt.
A little over a year ago my dad went and got himself a Facebook account. And I dragged my feet about getting one because I just thought it was ridiculous. I had a MySpace account (which I only grudgingly got to help keep in touch with my dad and brother anyway); why on Earth would I need a Facebook account too? But then he started spending less and less time on MySpace and so eventually I made up an account too. Just to keep in touch with dad, of course.
And then this crazy thing happened. I started finding all these people I had lost track of over the years. My best friend from first grade (who also doubled as my first crush). My best friends from Junior High (all three of them, crazily enough). My favorite zoology lab partner. The two guys I skipped school with that one and only time. (That is a story for another day.) The girl I spent uncountable hours of hilarity with when I was visiting my grandparents. Not to mention that nearly every one of my aunts, uncles, and cousins has an account. It's like a family reunion every day of the week. And I was hooked.
I don't really have a "hometown". I mean there is a place I was born and I still have a lot of family there, but we didn't stay in one spot while I was growing up. My parents don't live in the same place we did when I graduated high school. So when I do talk to my parents on the phone I don't hear about how mom ran into so-and-so at the grocery or that I'm just not going to believe what my old neighbor's best friend's mom's uncle's dog did. Because we just don't have that presence anywhere. I've always wondered what it would be like and I recently got a taste of it thanks to Facebook.
Last week my mom went to a festival near the town from which I graduated. I found that amusing because I had just been reading the status updates of a bunch of people who had gone as well. Since several of the people are mutual friends, I got to "overhear" their conversations as they posted to each other's walls. And so when she said to me, "Mandi, I saw someone that I just know you went to high school with but I can't think of his name for anything" I was able to say, "Well yeah. So-and-so was in the parade. I saw it on Facebook." Which seems a little like saying, "Oh yeah. I ran into So-and-so at the pharmacy and he told me he was going to be in it."
For just that moment I felt like I was pretty plugged in to all the people I've known and loved over the years. It was a nice moment of "normal" for me.