Why I love the Internet

Three decades after my summer in Sri Lanka, and 25 years with no contact, the wonders of the web reunite me with Delanie, my host sister from the city of Mt. Lavinia.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mounting excitement and disbelief

Since the first emails, I have done nothing but obsess over my reconnection. I want to buy her everything. I shop for her, take pictures, duplicate tapes, scan documents, burn cds, organize mementos, try to keep in mind that planes have luggage-weight limits. I think of her family and what they might find amusing from the USA, and pick up cheesy novelty items, charms representing various aspects of my own life, little toys and games (20Q, which I hope isn't TOO American for them) and a Reader's Digest book, "Life in These United States." Just for grins. T-shirts, of course. Stickers. Imprinted balloons. Junk, but all meaningful. I pack in in a Times Union tote.

I find it hard to fully allow my family and friends into my Sri Lanka space. I don't expect them to be too interested. I can't satisfactorily explain to them that the summer of '75 was defining to me; that whatever parts of me were half-formed became solid, that my eyes were opened and my heart was opened. Or that within those almost three months, I experienced a full spectrum of emotions, many of them new to me. Name That Emotion, I felt it at one time or another. Or how because of the universal connection I was privileged to feel, the struggles I witnessed, the love, humor, fear, all of it, I don't think I will ever disrespect a person based on things they can't control. Or based on things that are not my business, that don't hurt others, that don't make them less deserving. That is not to say that I will never disrespect another human being. Just that I am choosier, largely because of my months as an 18-year-old in a Third World country.

But gradually, I speak to my family more about Sri Lanka and my host family, the Theabolds, and their friends. I bring out some pictures, hang a batik, attempt to cook egg hoppers (google that one) with minimal success, and play bits of a tape I recorded when we were living our daily lives in the sunny home on Templers Road in Mt. Lavinia. I can't speak for them, my husband and daughters, but I think they were interested, if not excited, about meeting this Delanie and Duleep couple in person. I could bore them with large helpings of the 1975 me, but I keep a lid on it, part way, anyway.

I know lately there has been so much me. Me me me. Maybe that's why I didn't go on and on. Because I could have, easily. I feel like I remember every minute of it.


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