Without internet

December 9, 2012

I thought I'd be fine without internet. Aren't I self-sufficient? Someone who loves to read, write, take long walks, someone who can spend hours sitting and staring out the window? No internet would be a boon. More time for the things I loved.

I knew that this image of myself might be slightly skewed when I found myself swearing--in a loud, crazy-woman voice--to the automated recording at Comcast. The lovely Australian-sounding voice on the other end of the line didn't know I was swearing. And didn't care. Which only made me more hysterical. When I heard, in that cheerful robotic monotone, that "this call may be recorded," I didn't hesitate for a second. Go on, I thought. Record away.

Not only was I without internet on a day when I needed to communicate with my students through email, but (1) my grandchildren, who were staying with me, were either sick with 104 fever or coming down with the illness that would inevitably result in 104 fever and (2) my husband, whose job it is to fix all computer related problems, was out of town.

Out of town! This brings me to the clause in the marriage contract that no one told me about. Something to the effect that you must each be there for the other when your area of expertise is required. (Or when your grandchildren have 104 fever, regardless of your expertise.)

And let me just say that although communicating with my students was the number one reason I missed the internet, once my grandchildren were asleep, my priorities shifted. I missed being able to catch up on Facebook, I missed being able to spend some discretionary income on something I didn't need but just might make me feel better--a book, a pair of warm pajamas, some Kona coffee. I missed being in the know--whether any of the books I had put on reserve were in at the library, whether Lolita was available on instant viewing on Netflix, and what time was the preschool story hour at Newtonville books (in case the fever went down)?

I just want to say that I spent 36 hours alone in the woods in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Without food, water, shelter, without a book or a piece of paper or a pencil. Those were the rules of the Outward Bound program I was on. OK, water was available from the lake, which you could still drink from then. The rest was out. Some people in my group found this difficult. I did not. I was happy to lie on a rock in the sun during the day, trailing my hand in the water, to curl up under a piece of plastic at night and sleep under the stars.

So I know I can be content by myself, with only myself to rely on. In the woods.

Not so much at home. Surrounded by people. People who need me. So let me just say to the people at Comcast, who took three days to restore my internet: I love to read. I love to write. And when the world is too much with me at my house, I love to get on the internet. Please.