My mother has discovered video calls on Skype, which has made me a frequent guest at various family gatherings recently. It’s been amazing, seeing everyone and talking and laughing with them. We’ve joked how years from now, we won’t be able to remember how I was able to attend all these events while obviously living overseas.
Just yesterday, while sitting on Marco’s porch here in Rome and trying to decide if I should bring in the laundry as the sky turned a charcoal grey, I got a text message on my phone from my father to get online and open Skype – Dick and Bob were over for lunch and wanted to say hi.
Dick and Bob are two of my “grownups,” fellow cast mates when I was in a national touring company of Annie about a million years ago. Now that I’m pushing 40, it seems funny to continue to refer to them that way – but I always have, and old habits die hard. Dick is in Philly doing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and he and Bob decided to go “down the shore” for the day to visit with my parents.
(Have I really known them for almost 30 years? It just occurred to me that my mother was younger than I am now when her clearly insane daughter decided to become an actress, taking her away from her PTA meetings – and her husband – for an inordinate length of time.)
When I travel now, shuttling back and forth between Rome and the South of France, I find that the majority of my packing list involves a tangled rat’s nest of wires, cables, chargers, plugs, gadgets and other accoutrements of the 21st century traveler. But I remember back in 1981 when we discovered the Walkman, and marveled at its tiny size and space-age headphones.
I also remember receiving packages from my 5th (then 6th, then 7th) grade class back home, with construction paper cards made in art class; I remember being pen pals with a Girl Scout troupe we met in Boston, and how our mail had to be routed through the producers’ office in New York and then sent in bulk to our stage manager; and sadly, all these years later, I remember way too little about the dozens of cities we visited, too few moments captured on film and preserved in yellowing cellophane albums.
It’s a fascinating world, show business, and child actors in particular have a unique story to tell. When people – and by people I mean, women my age – find out I was in Annie as a kid, they invariably have a million questions for me. I wonder how my own experience would have been different, and if I would have been able to tell my stories better, if I had access to email, digital pictures, social networks, YouTube, blogs, Twitter and the like while on the road.
There are lots of families who have taken to the road for a wide variety of reasons, and their stories can be found easily enough online in many media formats. But, those stories are told by the parents – in fact, I’ve never seen a blog entry, let alone a blog, written by a kid who’s traveling. So, to all those traveling families out there – whether on vacation or on an open-ended trip – why not make your kids be a guest blogger on your site? How about giving them the camera for the day, and seeing the world through their eyes? Or, have them narrate a walk through their typical, yet entirely exotic, day?