This past weekend, Paula, Benjamin, and I took a conglomeration of trains to visit my uncle in Hartford, Connecticut. We spent the weekend chatting about the family, fractured as it is by divorces, remarriages, spite, and acrimony. I got caught up on who’s not talking to whom, and why. It’s a game I’ve never played, but for some reason both sides of my family has always relished. Thankfully, most of my generation of offspring from these bitter unions seem immune to it.

My uncle asked me when the last time I spoke to my sister and brother was. Honestly, it had been some time. I love and care deeply for my siblings, but between work, parenthood, and performing, it just doesn’t seem like there’s time enough in the day to keep in touch with them. Not to mention other people I love who may not be on this earth for much longer, like my paternal grandparents*.

Relatedly, my father is in town this week. Yesterday evening, we went to Wo Hop, the Mecca of American-style Chinese Food for nostalgia of both food and family. We had a great evening catching up. His healthy suspicion of social networking means he’s not on Facebook**, which means that I don’t even have the vanishingly shallow connection with him that I maintain with most of the rest of the family. I was shocked to learn that he didn’t even know that we’d moved. Of course he didn’t… I talked about that exclusively online. I never took two seconds out of my busy life to call him and tell him about it.

Relationships that are not nurtured wither and die. Facebook is the barest of nourishment. Relationships can survive there, but it’s difficult for them to thrive. I have been allowing many of my most treasured relationships to survive in their deathbeads, with a tiny amount of contact slowly drip-dripping from an IV bag above. How long until everyone I “know” is really a stranger but for their status updates?

So it’s high time I started really making an effort to keep in touch with the people I really care about.

  • My maternal grandparents are a lost cause at this point. My grandfather, who I adored as a kid, now detests me because of the melanin content of my wife’s skin. My grandmother is busy fighting off age and travelling around the world and was never particularly interested in being a grandmother. However, the door is never closed if either of them decide to pass through it.

** My genetic father is a Facebook contact, but the only thing I hear from him is his occasional wall-posted Facebook game accomplishment.