It’s been eleven days since I flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco. That also means it’s been eleven days since I had any contact with my phone. Through a series of unfortunate postal service events, it is in transit, (hopefully!) returning to Philadelphia soon, where it will be shipped back to me again. Of course, this would be the one time to know how to change my voicemail “greeting” or (haven’t we been able to do this since, like ’95?) check my messages from another phone. But, alas, I’m clueless. Honestly, I cannot figure out how to listen to the (probably) 30 angry messages on my phone.
And though it’s been very difficult to go through my days with no cell phone, or actually, no phone at all (Who has a land line anymore? We don’t.), I’m probably the best person in the world for this to happen to. I don’t love phone talking. And I don’t love the pressure of needing to return a call. I have missed two things. One is texting. I’ve constantly had moments where I needed to tell Friend X about goofy college dance song on the radio at Walgreens (for example). Those moments slip away and I totally forget to email about it by the time I’m home. I’ve also missed security. It really scares me to leave the house with August and have no phone in my car or in my hand. I’ve missed having a trustworthy phone line to 911, just in case. I’ve been keeping Google phone open all day on my computer, but a couple of times it hasn’t worked. In general, it’s scary to feel alone. Phones make me feel like I have a permanent friend in my pocket.
But losing that fake friend is also a lovely freedom. It’s wonderful to not have a little angry noisemaker in my pocket fussing at me all day long. It’s wonderful to not know what time it is when I’m playing with August at the park (yes, I really should wear a watch). It’s good to disconnect.
I knew when I was coming home that I would be arriving to a TV with no cable. We’d made the decision in December that it wasn’t a good financial decision to keep cable flowing into our happy picture box. It’s not that I don’t love TV. It’s just that I am the world’s most addicted TV type. I love to sit on my butt and stare at the thing. I love to flip channels. I love to waste away while images of pretty people flow in and out of my brain’s consciousness.
There was a time in my life when ridding myself of cable would not have clicked as a viable financial option. It was necessary, the way that a phone is or an oven is. But having a kid has changed that. I knew, of course, that TV watching is not good for little brains. So once baby August began stopping his play and staring at Matt Lauer like he was a yummy cookie, I began to second-guess my morning TV routine. After time, the Today show went off and was replaced with NPR in the kitchen. (Which, it turns out, actually gives you the news without forcing you to sit through awkward sexual jokes while the anchors stand in front of a crowd on “The Plaza”).
After morning TV was gone, I began to recognize how often TV was on in my life to fill the quiet, especially while I was home with a baby. What did God want to do with that quiet? What was I missing when I turned on the noise? How could my time be used more fully?
Tonight, my TV is off. In my former life (two weeks ago) I would have been flipping through channels to find something vaguely entertaining (probably on the Travel channel) to set my eyes on. Right now, though, I’m listening to cars drive past our open windows. (Yes, it is nice to live in San Francisco in the winter, even though I gripe about the weather the rest of the year). I can hear my husband studying and shuffling papers in the next room over.
What does God have for me in the quietness of my being phoneless and at the mercy of Hulu? I’m not sure. But it almost feels like a miracle that I’m going to find out. A very gentle, quiet kind of miracle.