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far places by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
continued from page 2

Lag ahead or behind your friends and family by an hour or two, heck even three, and it's no big deal; you call your old college friend at bedtime to catch her just after she gets home from work, your brother kindly waits till late afternoon to call you on the weekends to let you sleep off the previous night's festivities. But when the time difference is five hours or more, real-time communication becomes tricky. When you're awake, they're either asleep or at work; by the time they get home at the end of their day, you've just settled into bed. You learn to rely on email and expect "conversations" to span days or weeks; you save up stories to tell each other when you finally manage to find an hour when both of you are actually awake, around, and available to spend some quality time talking in person. Spontaneous phone calls become a thing of the past; my friends and I make telephone dates now, so we don't have to leave messages at transatlantic phone call rates. The last time I talked to my friend in Portland, I ended the phone call with a good night -- a good-bye which made perfect sense for me at 11 o'clock in the evening, but not a whole lot for her at 3 in the afternoon.

So it's not the miles that make this place seem too far away, but the psychological distance instead. Living this many hours ahead of all of my family and so many of my friends, I feel perpetually off-kilter, out-of-sync, unable to quite connect to many of the people I love best. 

Yeah, I know how lucky I am to live in this technologically advanced age, where a plane can take me all the way across the Atlantic in just a quarter-day's time, and the internet lets me communicate long-distance without paying for anything more than my broadband connection. I know how fortunate I am, too, to have this great life where I get to live in far places around the world. And living away from home has been good for me; it's made me realize that Boston's not the only city where I can be happy. But after seven months on Greenwich Mean Time, I can tell you this too: in the next place that I live, the place that's supposed to be for good, I have just one stipulation. If it can't be Boston, let it least share the same time zone.


check out these related articles:
after school | leaving home | good-bye without leaving


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