December 9, 2019 chartreusian

What a difference a decade makes

{PART OF THE MEA CULPA SERIES OF POSTS _ where I post things I should have written a long time ago… yeah…that’s on me.}

{{{ Apparently, this was something I wrote almost exactly 9 years ago in 2010 after we had moved back to France. Not sure why I never posted it…but here it is just as I found it in my drafts folder.

Several things struck me while reading it: 1) we had only three kids 2)what must this kind of comparison be here in Burundi. Even in the four and a half years we’ve lived here, we’ve seen some significant changes) }}}

The last time we moved to Grenoble it was August 1999.  We had been married just over three years, no kids.  We could easily pack up most of what we owned, put in in storage in our parents’ basement, take the rest in a few suitcases, stop renting the apartment we were in, and go.  We found a cheap apartment in the city where I could walk to school. We were planning on being here about 12 months or so.

This time we have 3 kids going into school – one starting school for the first time here. We had a house and cars to get rid of. We had to sell a lot of stuff, just to get down to having a storage shed left.  We had to rent out our house. We had to base where we lived more on where the kids would go to school than anything.  We plan on being here for 4 years or so.

The other HUGE change is the way technology affects your ability to stay connected over long distances.

Last time we had a phone at our apartment and expensive long distance calls to Canada. Very expensive. We probably called home a few times a year. We had dial-up internet at home.   In order to get music we would buy a few CD’s whenever we were back in Canada and physically bring them here.  In order to get shows from North America we became part of a rather large and organized international television smuggling ring.  Friends of ours had some contacts back in California who would tape shows onto VHS cassettes, then they would either be mailed over – or more often, saved up and brought over en-masse when someone was back in the US. Then there was a systematic passing of the tapes around a small and organized ex-pat community.  Occasionally one of the tapes would go missing and we would be left in the lurch – not knowing what happened on the season finale of Alias!

 Email was our primary form of communication with people back in Canada.  In order to show what we were up to – we could attach a few pictures that we took on our 1 MegaPixel digital camera.

This time we have a package at our house that gives us (for €39 a month) broadband internet, tons of digital tv stations and unlimited phone calls to all over France and North America.  We can buy our music the exact same way we did back home – online.  We can watch streaming TV, post essentially unlimited photos, videos and whatever else on this blog and other places.  We can use skype to have free video calls anywhere in the world. I can use Google Translate to make a (usually) incredibly accurate instant and free translation of any document, webpage, or text of any kind.  Facebook & Twitter allow us to keep up with friends dispersed all over the globe.

Yes, we had these things back in Canada – but somehow the power of them to give some sense of being less disconnected did not really occur to me until we were living here.

I’m not sure what the point is.

 I guess: “living in the future is pretty cool”  

Well, that and “No, it does not make it feel like we’re still back in Canada – which is at the same time unfortunate and fantastic”