It’s summer in America, and that means… family vacation!

So this week we loaded up the minivan and the boys and made the annual pilgrimage to our house in South Carolina’s Low Country.

Sometimes I wonder why.

As we traversed the Tappan Zee Bridge, we were granted with the majestic sweep of the Hudson.

Despite the view and my lecture on New-World adventurers, no one looked up.  Charlie was scrolling through ‘Reddit’ on his I-Phone.  Alex was head-down on his laptop.  I’m not sure what Bennett was doing, but I know it involved something digital.

Later we crossed the mighty Susquehanna.

Nothing.

Passed through the Great Swamp.

Nada.

And cruised past my favorite, the billboard outside Smithfield, NC featuring a fetching Ava Gardner, en déshabillé.

Zip.  Bupkis.

We hadn’t been at our halfway-stop hotel for 15 minutes before two Skype calls came in from friends at home.  I looked up from unpacking:  All three boys sported headsets, laptops glowing blue.  The room looked like Mission Control.

“Dad, this Internet is feeble,” Bennett moaned.

“What do you expect?” I asked.  “You three are sucking it dry.”  I fixed myself a Manhattan.

At work, I email and chat regularly with Siddhartha and Usha in Bangalore, with Duncan in Beijing, Brian in Douala… Diego in Bogota.  The world, for better or worse, is no bigger than my desktop.

As a man who counts Richard Burton, René Caillié and Captain Cook among his heroes, I have long since resigned myself to the fact I was born 200 years too late.  But I won’t give up without a fight.

Those cowry shells on my office window sill?  I had to walk the beach on Zanzibar to collect them.  That swim in the Amazon?  Ten hours by air from Boston, two more by boat. My stroll through Mumbai’s Kherwadi Market with Shweta as she explained all things Indian?

You had to be there.

Still, I live in hope.  They haven’t yet replicated the taste of the king mackerel we caught this morning, or that site of dolphins surfacing off South Beach.  Or the wafer-like delicacy of sand dollars we found at low tide, just east of Daufuskie Island.

But I bet those clever guys at Apple and Google are working on it right now.

Written for Accion’s employee intranet, August 2012        

 

 

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