Saturday, January 4, 2014

the addict withdraws

This really is a retreat, in every sense of the word. There is no internet; I begged the building manager here to let me share his wifi, to no avail, so drove twice yesterday to the bagel store with wifi. I am sitting in my car outside the cafe right now. Did not set up my cellphone for travel because I thought I'd be connected here. I'm such an internet addict that it’s a profound shock to be without, not just the constant influx of email, but the ability at any moment to check Facebook and Twitter, write my blog, Google facts, read newspapers and writing websites. I am hooked into the universe through my little Mac machine. But not here.
But also – at home when I get up in the morning, I go down to front door to get two newspapers, and then into my extremely cluttered kitchen where the cat waits for breakfast. I make mine, give her hers, turn on the computer, open the newspapers. Before I’ve had a cup of coffee, I have jabbed the needle of information flow into my arm.
And this flow continues all day – the internet, the radio – Jian, I know you’re on NPR here, have to find out when – in the evening, select TV. And all this in my house, where every surface is covered with mementoes and things to do. Especially things to read – huge stacks of magazines and books. My living-room desk covered with the paper of day-to-day living to deal with and file – bills, cards, receipts. My office desk covered with creative kinds of paper – to do with teaching and my writing – to be dealt with and filed. There’s a large closet full of clothing and shoes, almost all of it second-hand and some of it never worn but ready, in case. Nagging.
The phone rings. The cell phone dings. The internet never stops. People come to the door – Bill the homeless man in his constant search for chores; neighbours; kids with fundraising schemes. Outside is my garden, always in need of something. Inside is my house, always in need of something.
And in the middle of it all is li’l ol’ me, always, yes, in need of something.

Now I’m here, in my mother’s living-room (well, right now, in the car). Only a few chachkas which remind me of her. Hardly any books, except the ones I’ve brought with me, and the newspapers I bought yesterday. No cat. No internet. Nobody coming to the door. Just me and the machine I’m tapping on, to tell this tale. Hardly any clothes, hardly any chores. Usually there’s a good friend here too – the sunshine – but yesterday and today, that friend and her alluring distractions are hidden – it’s grey and chilly with a sharp wind. I am looking out Mum’s window – well actually, since my brother and I own this place now, it’s actually, incredible as it seems, MY window – at the bay, pelicans diving, one whiter than white egret fishing, a  large hawk circling, the banana palms fluttering in the wind.
And until 5 o’clock Monday, when my daughter and her son arrive from the frozen north, this is how things will be – me and my thoughts and my heartbeat.

I know it’s healthy. But it’s also scary. Where’s the noise?

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