I know sometimes I go off on a rant about technology and social media, particularly when talking about topics like Twitter negativity and the effect of digitally altered images on self esteem, but for this week’s Happiness Is post I am going to shout about one part of technology from the rooftops – FaceTime.
Coming to Australia has been one of the best things I have ever done for a million and one reasons, but it has also been the hardest. First of all, leaving in December meant that I missed my first Christmas and New Year with Jack which was upsetting in itself, but secondly because being away from everything and everyone you know and love is scary and at times lonely. Back in England, I was used to having my friends, family and colleagues constantly around me. I was the busy girl, the one who had plans most nights, the one who was sleep deprived but smiling from being around so many wonderful people. I had a good, happy life… but Australia had always been my dream. I knew I could never settle in England without even trying life over here. Even if I hated it, I would have silenced the nagging in my mind. So I booked my trip and I left.
Everything about this trip has been wonderful but I know that if it were not for apps like FaceTime I would be struggling. Right now, I am the happiest I have ever been. I am living in one of the most incredible cities in the world with the person I love, meeting brilliant new people and have the chance to see and do so many wonderful things. Life is great, and a huge part of that is because I am able to talk and connect with the people I love back home.
Jack and I managed to make Christmas and New Year special thanks to FaceTime. I rang him for the midnight countdown, even though it was midday in Vegas and I got to see the new year in with him. We were apart, but we were still connected. Our first Christmas and New Year was hard, but not as hard as it would have been without technology.
I FaceTime home at least once a week. We schedule one night to ring my family and one night to ring Jack’s. Our FaceTimes are never short, but I wouldn’t want them to be. Those conversations bring both of us so much happiness. Just seeing the faces of the people we love, hearing their accents and catching up are a boost. You can almost pretend you’re sat in the living room with everyone, cracking jokes and not on opposite time zones. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do that and to still feel the same closeness with 99% of the people I loved and left in December. Times weren’t always like this. My Uncle Mike met his wife Jenny, who had moved to London from Australia, in the nineties. Jenny told us that she used to only be able to ring home for thirty minutes once a month because it cost so much. I don’t think I could have coped with that.
It is so incredibly hard being away from home. Whilst I write about the amazing things we do and how lucky we are to be here – all of which is true – there are also times that it hurts to be away. I was looking for photos for the front of my dad’s Father’s Day card and just seeing his face made me cry. There are times I wish I could go out for the day with Jack’s parents and get to know them better. When my friend Grace tells me about a night out, I get a pull in my chest and wish I could just sit with her for an hour and a few cocktails. There are times I just want a hug from my mum. There are times the pain of missing people hits you out of the blue and really, really hurts.
But then you FaceTime and realise you’re not alone. Sure you’re on different time zones and in different countries, but you’re still with each other. You can still talk and share and laugh and support each other. You have those catch ups and make those memories, even if they are over a screen. FaceTime makes the distance smaller, the people closer. I’ll always be grateful to technology for that.
For those of you who have your family and friends around you, give them a hug a little tighter the next time you see them. I’d give anything to hug my parents or share a bottle of wine with my friends. But for now, FaceTime is there and I couldn’t be happier because of it.