Saturday was my nephew’s birthday party. He had turned 5 on Friday, and I had given him a phone call to say happy birthday and ask how his day was. Since I’m currently in Leeds and the party was taking place near Chester I had said that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I had planned on making the phone call, getting my parents to drop off a present on my behalf and then seeing Luke in a couple of weeks.
But as I spoke to him on the phone I changed my mind. I decided to go to the party. I’d been thinking about doing this for a couple of days, since it had become clear I had no commitments in Leeds on the Saturday, but hearing Luke’s voice clinched it.
I’d wavered about going because I knew that the travel there and back would take about half the day and I wasn’t sure whether it would be worth it. Although I didn’t have specific commitments, I still had things I needed to do and I don’t find trains very conducive spaces for working.
True to my expectations I did not get much done on the journeys. Plus I had a couple with a rather laid back approach to controlling their children accompanying me on the train from Leeds, and a couple of drunken muppets sharing the carriage on the return journey.
So was it worth it?
Without a doubt.
See I’m a big fan of Skype. It really is amazing that you can video call someone in a different part of the country—or even in a different country—totally free of charge. Sure it doesn’t always work perfectly (what does?) but it is generally brilliant. Skype does however have a significant flaw . . .
You can’t hug through it.
And let me tell you, the hug I received from my nephew was pretty amazing. Even as nephew-hugs go, this one was something special. You know when kids cling on to you with all their strength and nuzzle into your neck? Yup, it was one of those. If I had ovaries, they would have jumped.
I got a similarly great hug from my younger nephew, Joel. He even held back from his usual trick of trying to pull my beard off
Oh, and I got to hang out with my parents, siblings, and in-laws.
Now I do have some thoughts on this subject (I’m sure you’re relieved to know), but they’re still half-formed and this post is already getting long enough. So I’ll leave things here for now.
Except to say that I have been freshly awakened to the importance of sorting out times and places to do proper goodbyes with folk before I leave for Japan (less than 2 months now). E-mail is all good and well, and phone calls are fine, but let’s face it–Facebook isn’t the same as being face-to-face.
So as I’m planning my final weeks in the UK and finding myself having to choice between doing more language study and writing, or traveling 6 hours to give people farewell hugs . . . no contest, the hugs have it!
Incidentally, I suck at organizing that kind of thing, so if you want to see me before I depart these blessed shores, you may need to help me out . . .