Saturday, January 21, 2012

Airmails versus emails

Mirka called from Belgrade just before New Year:"Hey you! Are you alive?"
"How much is this costing? Let me call you back!"
"Ha! Don't wo-r-r-y! Now! You don't answer my email, for your birthday, you don't answer for Christmas!"
Mirka goes on to remind me we are at that certain age, we could both be dead. Slumped over our fancy machines.

Mirka had written me a long email for my birthday back in September. And I should have pounded out that moment- "Hey! Great to hear from you! Glad all OK in BG!"
But this was from Belgrade. It demanded more, a sense of occasion. And somehow, time went on and each time I remembered, the idea of answering became longer and more detailed to make up for the time that was elapsing even as I thought about it.

Mirka's birthday wishes used to come in a flimsy envelope with PAR AVION on the front and a stamp with a profile of President Tito next to a stamp with a plane on it, and I would send an airmail back with a row of stamps with the queen's profile on them. Luckily back then there weren't stamps with pretty pictures because as I was to discover later when working in Yugoslavia, Yugoslav postal workers are avid stamp collectors. In fact, I think that's why they join the post office. Anyway, it was always about two letters a year, one for birthdays and one for Christmas or New Year and sometimes a flurry of brief ones back in the old days when I was going for the summer and needed a letter of invitation or Mirka would write "Please bring aspirin!" Though she usually asked for Vogue too.

Actually, this time I did have an excuse. The big old desk computer where I can pound away like it's my old Smith Corona, (that's a typewriter, my children) developed problems and as the rest of the family was OK with their laptops it stayed problematic for quite a while. And so no blogs either. But no-one has emailed me to ask if I were still alive. Hey guys! Wouldn't cost you! Not like it's from Belgrade or anything! Maybe everyone's like me-They really are waiting to do a really good job. Add how they miss my pungent wit and sharp analysis, lend that email a little sense of occasion.