When I was a kid, it was a pretty big deal to have a pen pal. It might be someone from a different town or state, but if a kid was lucky, they could exchange correspondence with someone in a foreign land. For me, that foreign place was San Francisco, California. There I had an irregular exchange of cards and notes with our family friend, Mr. Gary.
Mr. Gary was the next best thing to having friends around the globe because Mr. Gary was a global traveler and a world-class lover of posting mail. We received postcards and greetings from Mr. Gary on his travels around Europe when I was a kid, and as time passed, he started exploring Asia and the rest of the planet too. To this day, I credit him for fueling my own globetrotting lifestyle.
For my children, especially my daughter, hand written correspondence is practically a thing of the past. She and her friends exchange instant messages or leave recordings on WeChat. I suppose it is only a matter of time before she will have her own mobile device and accounts so that they stop leaving messages on my phone, but for now I’m happy to control the flow of information.
As a teenager, I kept in touch with friends from a few different states that I had met on holidays or who had moved away from my hometown. By the time my daughter was four, she had a friend who had moved to Brazil.
The times have changed and the methods of communication too, but friendship is still friendship. No matter where we end up, it will be far easier for my kids to keep in touch with their childhood friends, even the ones half way around the planet, then it was for me. Heck, my daughter is already making plans for a reunion tour next summer. I wonder who will be expected to pay for that?