“Allo,” he answered.
“Hi David!” I said — a little nervous, and completely in awe that I was communicating with a friend from Nigeria. David I'olua Alabi and I heard each other’s voices from across the world.
When I was a child, it was a really big deal to make a long distance call to my grandparents. In 2018, we’re able to connect over oceans. The cost? Zero dollars or naira (Nigerian currency.) How amazing is that?
Our conversation was brief, touching on family and interests — a young university student and a middle aged house wife sharing lives.
Because we were willing and open, I grew. Thanks David!
I made the call from my front porch, sitting in my new to me rocking chair. I found the sturdy, fifteen dollar seat waiting for me at a resale shop. Although its white paint was a little marred, I could see it’s potential. One can of red spray paint and a toss pillow later, it’s my favorite shady spot on a hot and humid summer day.
After David and I chatted, I went inside and grabbed one of my all time favorite books off the shelf — Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. The story poses a very deep philosophical question. Would you want to live forever?
Now this might sound strange, but I took that book to the post office.
I wanted to see how much it would cost to mail it across the sea — to India. You see my friend Abhishek was looking for people interested in exchanging books. I was, and so he sent me the address of another interested party. Abhishek and I both wondered what postage would cost.
Handing the postal worker the book and sliding a small slip of paper with the address I’d copied from my phone screen I asked, “Can you tell me how much it will cost to mail this book to India? ”
She weighed the book and told me it was light and small enough that I could fit it into a padded envelope. After some consideration and entries on her computer, she said I could ship it for about four dollars — if I purchased the envelope and classified it as a letter. Wow! I thought. That’s great!
I took the envelope to a high counter in the middle of the post office, wrote a — Hello, I love this book because , Hope you like it, too— note on the book’s inside cover, filled out the address spaces and got back in line. Wouldn’t you know I stood in front of a different postal worker? I handed her the envelope and she asked, “Have you filled out the customs form?”
“Ahhh, no,” I said looking for guidance from my original helper who was at the window next door. She said, “Sorry, I forgot about that.”
I got back out of line, stood at the center counter and filled out the necessary paperwork. After another short wait, I was back with postal worker #2. She typed for some time and then said, “That will be $13.75.”
“$13.75?” I asked. “I thought it was only about $4.”
I said this loud enough for postal worker #1 to hear. She looked sympathetic. There was some discussion between #1 and #2 and it was determined that if I wanted Tuck Everlasting to make its way to India, it was going to cost me $13.75. I guess it couldn’t be classified as a letter after all.
“Go ahead,” I said. And without a second thought I handed over my credit card.
For $13.75, and the possibility it offered, I was willing to make the investment. Maybe the recipient needs the message in the book.
So, for under $15 I reached across the sea twice.
I’ve always liked the thought of travel and a comfy chair on my front porch. Interesting how opportunities sometimes present — just not in the way that I expect.
I read this piece on travel yesterday by Zat Rana. I agree with him. Travel is not about finding ourselves — it’s about losing ourselves — setting down the scripts of who we are in our normal environments.
Travel offers the possibility of becoming something more, even if you don’t leave your front porch.