Coping Without Modern Machines

Originally Published in the Tri Town Transcript, Mar. 26, 2015

Well, there have been a lot of challenges to endure this month – the month that was supposed to bring us out of winter. But I’m not talking about the ongoing slush and flood fest. No, I’m talking about grimmer things.

For starters, our Keurig broke leaving me to brew my morning coffee in a traditional, sloooow, drip-brew pot. There are at least ten million steps I have to take, and then, this pot turns off after only two hours. It should go without saying that I drink coffee all day long. At hour two, I am only just beginning my daily caffeine intake.

Obviously this undid me anew each morning, so you can imagine how I coped when Stop & Shop reorganized its produce section.
Flummoxed doesn’t even begin to describe it. They put the pre-sliced pineapple where the flavored water mixes used to be, and I can hardly speak about where they put the fresh basil.
 Here’s a hint: it’s no longer by its culinary soul mate, the tomato. I can’t fathom it.

But these were merely preludes to the biggie: the loss of my phone.

I was skiing in upstate Vermont on a crazy steep trail, in nearly zero visibility, and six inches of fresh powder, when my phone began pinging me. Text. Text. Text. But there is no texting mid-trail if you prefer your fingers to stay attached to your hand instead of frozen off of them. In fact, I only stopped once to adjust my jacket, which had bunched up oddly. I did a quick shimmy to straighten it out and continued to gracefully float down the mountain, by which I mean I didn’t die.

But, at the bottom when I went to check what all the texting was about, my phone was gone. I had shimmied it right out into the vastness of the mountain.

It was hopeless. Even I knew that, though I still insisted on some forced family fun. Nothing says maternal love like making the family ski down an incredibly hard trail, focused not on survival but on, “FINDING MOMMY’S PHONE!!”

But it was gone. I was phoneless. Untethered to the world. No one could find me. No one would know where I was. It was like I was invisible.

And it felt great.

Here’s the thing, when I have my phone, it is with me at all times. My husband works in the city, and so if the school nurse calls, (and she does at least twice a week to report bruises, splinters, sudden bouts of ennui regarding world peace,) I am the front line. And it worries me. Will the next call be The Big Call? The call I couldn’t afford to miss?

But now I had no phone. If my daughters spontaneously erupted in colorful bumps and could only speak Finnish . . . I wouldn’t be the first person to know. I couldn’t be – I had no phone.

It was so relaxing.

I couldn’t reply to texts. I couldn’t check email while at the doctor’s office to learn what bit of riveting news had happened in some place I’d never heard of. When I went to the aforementioned grocery store, while still stymied by asparagus hiding near the deli section instead of by its partner in bad tasting veggies, broccoli, I was able to accept it peacefully, because I couldn’t share my angst on Facebook.

Peace. Light. Sunbeams. Silence.

Until a mountain miracle occurred, and my phone was found mid-slope, uncrushed, dry as a bone, and FedExed back to me.

Now as I type it’s next to me. I mean, what if the school nurse calls?? All the lessons I learned were instantly undone. I can’t fake losing my phone. I can’t untether myself any more than I can brew fast coffee with a drip-brew pot.

Perhaps come April I will at least figure out where they stocked the sweet potatoes.