Early the other morning, I took a walk. It was dark. I rounded the corner at the bottom of my hill and as I passed Green Street on my left, I saw a young woman perched on a rock at the end of a driveway on my right. Her legs folded accordion-like into her chest and her arms were wrapped around them. An electronic device nestled in the palm of her hands and she was oblivious to me as I walked briskly through the darkness.
Like I said, it was early. I don’t know what teenage girls do in the pre-dawn hours these days. Maybe they have paper routes; maybe they tweet for money. I didn’t give it much more thought. I walked to my destination and then back home.
A few days later, at dusk, I was walking the same route, my destination the Lisbon House of Pizza. A Jeep pulled out of Green Street and I waved to one of my high school classmates. He stopped and I said “Hi! How are you?”
I hadn’t seen him for a while, maybe not since our class reunion almost two years ago. Had it really been that long?
“My father is dying,” he said.
Death always being a conversation changer, we discussed his father briefly and I expressed my sadness to him. I hadn’t known his father was sick. During the summer, I had heard laughter and good times coming through the trees from his father’s house to mine and I assumed all was well. I’m friends with both of his parents on Facebook.
I thought about his family that night and the next morning, as the sad news of his father’s death spread through our small town. By word of mouth, over Ethernet cables, and through the palms of our hands.
During the very early morning hours today, as I was composing my thoughts, my internet service provider crashed. It was down for two hours and according to other sources that did not crash, it was a “nationwide outage.” I thought about a quote I’d read yesterday, something about dysfunctional systems and how we’re all just gaming our dysfunctional systems instead of fixing them. I thought about what might happen if I calculated the cost of my monthly internet service per hour and withheld the two hour amount on my next bill. Likely, my service would eventually be terminated for having a balance. I could write a letter, express my displeasure. I’m sure I’d receive a form letter, apologizing profusely.
Maybe there will be a class-action lawsuit.
I was discouraged knowing there was very little I could do about this particular system I relied on.
As I started “being flexible” and making plans for alternative work arrangements, I looked outside my back door.
This blog, so it seems, has been a story about my odyssey home, about my desire to live a simpler life among people I know and love; people I care deeply about. I had an Aunty Em who helped me make it home; I clicked my heels and here I am.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I’m not sure anymore that all the goodness in life lies in the digital palm of our hands. I don’t know what “reinvention” or a “re-imagined life” looks like.
I know a few things. I’m going to a funeral today and I’ll probably go to another one in a few more days. I want to see people I care about face to face and let them know they are more than a bit of energy in the palm of my hand.