Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ambient intimacy

ambient intimacy

This phase of my life is soon coming to an end.

Sort of. Because Anthony is really much more social than I ever will be.

And we also do not always keep the same hours. I am the only person I know my age that happily wakes before dawn, whereas Anthony's non-profit hours last summer were something like 2pm-10pm. (Two o'clock! In the afternoon! To put this in perspective: I would usually have drawn for several hours, eaten two meals and cleaned a house before he'd even wake up.) My "stop working" alarm goes off at 8pm and I usually turn in soon thereafter. But of course Anthony would wrap late and his non-profiteers would head to the fabulous dive bar just across the street.

We actually fell into a perfectly pleasant routine. Several nights a week he would come home, eat something and visit for a bit -- he buzzing with post-work energy, me just barely hanging onto consciousness. Then I would select a bedtime story and Anthony would read it to me, tuck me in, give me a goodnight kiss and head out to the bar. Perfect. I got my sleep, he got his social time. Incongruent harmony.

So this is the image I thought of when I read about "ambient intimacy", which is something our robots create for us. The option of connecting with someone who may not even be physically in the same space. (Amber talks about it in her TED talk).

It sounds chilly and alienating until you remember that sometimes it's also a Godsend.

Life keeps happening to us both in two different cities. Anthony goes to lectures, classes, sees things in the library, hangs out with people I know, or sees a strange cloud in the sky. Meanwhile in Portland I finish pictures, go to Research Club things, watch movies, learn things, notice weird plants in the garden. We can still hold virtual hands and pass virtual notes to each other, and give lengthy reports on the state of things where we are, what we are doing, seeing, thinking or feeling, and in doing so we add an additional dimension to our combined experience on the planet.

(Getting a bit mushy up in here!)

Mostly: Long distance? It's hard.

But it's a LOT less hard these days, with the internet and cellphones and things to bring you as close as can be. It has certainly made this chapter of my life easier. It's the reason I can sincerely say "it isn't ideal," rather than "I can't stand it," when people ask me about it.