When I started getting on the net in 96 (or was it 1995?), one of the things I discovered after e-mail was online chatting. I got into the WBS chat network through which I met so many others, one of whom introduced me to ICQ. From the time I registered to this day, I have the same 6 digit Universal Identification Number (UIN) which has caused newer users to think I was mistyping my UIN whenever I gave it as 6 digits only. (Current UINs are in the 8 or 10 digits if not 12, I believe.)
It helped me to touch base with friends overseas while I was in Manila, and when I got to New York, it was a major avenue for me to reach the folks back home. It took Fe, my bestfriend, all of four years to discover ICQ and chatting, but we finally got the hang of it sometime last year.
My company seems to have put up an additional firewall which has been preventing me from connecting this week and that has really been very frustrating for me, not being able to talk to Fe and all. Eversince we became friends 20 years ago — boy, it has been two decades now! — we have been constantly in touch, burning the phonelines (even if it was a long distance call from Metro Manila to Bacoor, Cavite, writing letters we would hand each other the next time we see each other, and mailing letters to each other. And that was despite the fact that we saw each other practically every day while in College, and rather regularly once we went to law school and went on our foray through the corporate world.
My homesickness during my first two to three years here were difficult to deal with because she had stopped writing saying it was difficult to write and miss me at the same time. I think we finally got over it after I went home for a visit in 2002. She was busy taking care of a sibling but we were able to squeeze in some time to be together. After that, we were able to communicate once again by sending each other letters the length of notebooks. (I have one I’m finishing for my sister to take home when she goes back to Manila.)
I have taken great comfort in seeing that window pop up on the lower right hand corner of my screen each morning, mostly close to my noon and her midnight. No matter how short the conversations online were, they helped me to connect to one of the few people to whom I can bare my heart and soul without abandon.
Not even the java lite version will go through! Woe is me!!! *SIGH* I will find a way around this no matter what — and I will make the connection to Manila again.