Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Matthew...

What do you say to someone you haven’t seen in eight years?  How do you explain all that has happened since he left?  Or all that happened when he was younger?  How do you communicate with children who speak Italian?  What is there to say, after all these years?

Today is my younger son’s birthday.  I sent him a birthday wish on Facebook.  I think about him all the time, and even more so on his birthdays and holidays.  It’s tough: we don’t communicate well.  Not just Matthew and me, but all of us in our family.  Most of us don’t like to talk on the phone, don’t write letters, don’t Skype, and then regret that we don’t do it.

Sending him a package costs nearly fifty dollars.  A phone call isn’t much cheaper, either.  Ah, excuses, right?  Yes.  And more.  I am not sure I could talk to him on the phone without crying.  I know I would not be able to explain my tears to him, either.

I feel as if part of me is gone, broken, or lost.  I feel the need to reconnect with my son but I cannot do it by myself.  I have tried sending an email to all three of my kids, hoping it would spark an interest in communicating with each other.  We could just “reply all” and share our day-to-day life with each other.  Didn’t happen…

I tell myself that, even though I don’t hear from Matt, he does love me and miss me, too.  I tell myself that it is just the Great Communication Barrier that keeps us from getting in touch with each other.  I tell myself that it is my duty, as a parent, to keep the lines of communication open with my kids.  And I tell myself that I’m not doing a very good job.

Why?  I don’t really know.  Maybe it is just easier to miss him desperately than to tell him and make him feel bad.  I know he’s busy, I know his life is full with family, work, and whatever else he chooses to do with his time.

And I tell myself that we are going to sit down and have a chat about it.  Soon.  I will tell him how much I love him and miss him and that I wish I could find a way to keep in touch with him.  I will tell him stories about when he was growing up and how he delighted us with his wit and wisdom.

And I will apologize for hurting his feelings when he was 7.  He rode his bicycle all the way out to his grandparent’s house (8 miles away) because I said something that hurt him and he wanted Grandma to comfort him.  I will ask him to forgive me for being unkind because I didn’t really mean to be…

I will hug him and spend some quality time with him.

He’s coming home to visit June 18th……


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thank you, Nathaniel(s)....

Both of you…. 

On Tuesday, I went to the local AT&T store and purchased my new iPhone 5.  Yes, I know the next version will be out soon—this summer—but I wanted mine now.  After almost an hour in the store, I left with the new phone (and its hot pink cover) in my hand…

We had other errands to run, so I didn’t get a chance to plug the phone into my laptop and download my apps until the early afternoon.  Well, the “quite simple” process became less so: the phone “froze” in the iTunes home screen.

Nothing I did changed anything.  I turned it off, and then back on.  I restarted my computer and plugged the phone in again.  Nothing.  Just the same, stupid, frozen screen….

(I remember when I was four years old and our phone was on a party line.  I didn’t have any trouble with it: I would pick it up and listen, that’s all.  Of course, at four, I didn’t realize that it was rude to listen in on a party line when others were having a conversation.  When the operator called my mother to report my activities, I received a lecture on privacy and respect.  Oh well, nothing “froze”….)

So, the next step was to go BACK to the AT&T store and get them to fix it.  As I walked in the door, the greeter asked me what I needed and I explained that my phone was frozen.  She then asked when I bought it and I told her “three hours ago” and when she asked where, I said “here”….

And so, I met Nathaniel  Number 1.  He plugged my phone into a computer and tried to “unlock” it.  Then he tried another computer.  No luck, still frozen.  He then excused himself and went to talk to his manager.  When he returned, he was on his cell phone, talking to someone about me. It soon became apparent that he was talking to Apple Care….

After the phone call ended, he told me what my two options were:  1) go home and call Apple’s tech line and have them walk me through the process of unlocking my phone; or 2) drive an hour to the nearest Apple Store and have their techs do it for me.

And I was frustrated—and rude—to him.  “How can I CALL tech support when the ONLY phone I have is locked and won’t work?”  He could have been rude right back, but he wasn’t.  He was empathetic and supportive.  I apologized for my outburst and he said he would feel the same way…

And so, I went back home and picked up my laptop and John so he could make the trip to Fresno with me.  Of course, in my frustration/confusion/whatever, I gave him the wrong driving instructions and we drove an extra half hour to get to the Apple Store….

I felt so guilty that I encouraged him to sit in a comfy chair in the mall and have a Starbuck’s coffee while I took care of my phone problems...

Enter Nathaniel Number 2:  a very nice young man in his late twenties or early thirties.  Even though he hadn’t used Windows in fourteen years (he’s a Mac), he was able to help me navigate my laptop to facilitate the process.  Not only was he patient, he taught me some things I didn’t know…and need to know.  It turns out that I have to block my Avast “firewall” in order to download stuff from iTunes…

I explained what was going on with my phone and that I had no intention of going home until it was fixed AND all my apps were downloaded from iTunes.  He apologized for my long trip to the store and agreed to help me do all that before I left.

While my apps were downloading, he went to help another customer.  There I sat, staring at my playlist on iTunes, on an HP laptop!  Right next to me was a Mac.  On the other side of the table were two people with iPads….I felt like a fish out of water.

So, when Nathaniel Number 2 came back, and my apps were all downloaded, I thanked him for not making fun of my weird playlist.  He looked through my songs and mentioned several artists that he liked, too.  He noticed that I have Rufus Wainwright’s version of Hallelujah and he said Leonard Cohen’s versions are his favorites.  I asked if he had heard k.d. lang’s version and he hadn’t:  he plans to download it and listen to it for himself….

As six pm approached, NN2 excused himself: he had to leave because they are not allowed to have overtime.  He found someone else to help me with signing up for Apple Care + and he was off to clock out and go home….

So, what was supposed to be easy wasn’t.  What should have taken about an hour took most of the day.  And yet, what I will remember about the experience, and the day, is the two Nathaniels.  Two very different-looking men who tried everything they could to help me, and finally succeeded.

At my age, days are not to be wasted, and Tuesday certainly was not a waste.  I have my new phone, it actually works, and I met two young men who renewed my faith in “the younger generation”…. As I approach my birthday (Saturday), I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to have many positive experiences in my life….

And thankful for the two Nathaniels….