I knew by the sound that my phone fell in the toilet, and I maintain that it fell and was not dropped–it was in my purse and toppled out as opposed to being in my hands at a moment when they decided to stop working, as they sometimes do.
I knew after it got really hot then stayed in rice for days with no sign of life that it was gone.
But my life without my iPhone had to go on, and I found that life to be oddly liberating. As much as I love that phone for various reasons, it was nice to not have a phone ringing at random. It was nice to be in easy contact with people, unreachable except by internet (or in person or mail). When I was in high school, I would sometimes get a little tired of my friends and instant communication, so I’d skip a day of school or go off the grid for one day out of the weekend. I’d turn my cellphone off, sign out of all instant messengers when I was online, and just be at home, usually in my room. When I was ready, I’d sign back in, turn the phone back on, and act like nothing happened.
Strangely, I haven’t had that urge to disconnect since high school, but doing it in college at least once a week or so probably would’ve benefitted my greatly. Also, the only person I have never felt a desire to temporarily distance myself from is Paul, though I do think distance is beneficial in small doses to every single human relationship.
So I was forced to disconnect. When I was at work, I couldn’t play on my phone in the bathroom like usual or on my break. I started reading at lunch and soared through Neverending Story much faster than I would have otherwise.
The immediate thought of a lot of people when I was without a phone was, “What if something happens and you need your phone.” Nothing happened and I didn’t need it. While it was a good emergency crutch–especially since I haven’t gotten a landline–I think this gut reaction and kind of paranoia speaks to the ways we’ve come to rely on technology. We didn’t always have cellphones to bail us out. When I was little, we went on long vacations with either no phone at all or my mom’s big, box-like car phone. If one of my parents worked late and didn’t call, they worked late an didn’t call. People went where they wanted to go without having to check in, and if something happened, it happened.
So being without a cellphone tends to make people panic and worry for your safety, even though having a cellphone makes no difference it what happens to you. If my car was gonna break down, it was gonna break down. If a creeper was gonna try to abduct me, he was gonna try to abduct me. All a phone would do is help me faster. And if one of those things were to happen, I’d figure out a plan and deal with it.
It did make planning meeting Brandon, Kelly, and Paul for The Nutcracker a little difficult, though. And then it snowed, and Brandon and Kelly were both working until 5. I worked late, took a bath, changed, got ready, looked up directions to the theater, and sent him a Facebook message, which I knew would go to his phone, and waited.
He said something like, “Fuck this, we’re not coming.”
I assumed this was my brother overreacting, as usual, to some snow flurries and a few bad drives, but I knew the areas closer to Pittsburgh weren’t getting any snow at all. In fact, all was clear at my apartment.
I had a choice. I could decide to stay home, too, since I had no phone and would’ve been going alone, and let all four tickets go to waste, or I could go sans phone and accompaniment and at least get my money’s worth out of my ticket. Besides, I was already dressed, weather wasn’t an issue for me, and I’d been waiting to see the Pittsburgh Ballet’s Nutcracker for years.
So, I went. I saw no point in doing otherwise–I would’ve just been cranky in my apartment that I missed the show for reasons I still feel were stupid. Brandon insisted I stay home, but I said, “No. I’m leaving.” And off I went.
Meanwhile, I worried my brother, mother, boyfriend, his mother and presumably entire family, and even Meri–she was originally having an Apocalypse Party and Paul was my only point of contact, so when she told him it was off, he told her I’d ventured into the city anyway. Alone. Without a cellphone. And in a great dress, if I’m honest.
I stopped for gas in Canonsburg, where I knew exactly where I was and how to navigate, then made my way into the city. I got there just fine, following the directions and signs for the Cultural District, writing down street names and landmarks to make sure I could backtrack perfectly to leave (I’m really good at confusing myself leaving the city).
The only moment I had where I thought maybe I had made a terrible mistake and was going to die therefore proving everyone right was in the parking-garage elevator, completely alone, when it decided not to function properly at first. But after some coaxing, it did, and I walked to the theater. I did everything they tell you to do as a woman alone at night–look confident, head up and high, make eye contact, hold purse tight to body, be aware of your surroundings.
This may shock you, but I made it to the theater alive. I made it inside the theater alive. I even survived going to the bathroom, getting to my seat, and literally idling with nothing to do before the curtain rose and during intermission. I thought briefly about heading to the box office, explaining my situation, and asking to use a phone to at least be good and let someone know I’d arrived safely, but I decided not to. Years ago, or even now if I’d made a decision not to own a cellphone at all, they’d have to hope for the best and wait it out. I understand their concerns and why everyone thinks I was being a bit irresponsible, but they can’t live their lives hanging on my whereabouts and I can’t live mine in fear of what might happen if I can’t rely on the cellphone.
I e-mailed my angry mother when I got home. I poured myself an adult beverage, hung out, then went to bed.
And you know what? It was one of the most enjoyable nights of 2012. I saw a fantastic ballet–truly well-done, although flawed, but still beautiful and not worth missing because of hypotheticals.
I answered questions of “What were you thinking!?” in the following days with, “YOLO.”
And for me, it really is that simple. I say I had two choices–one was fear, the other was fun. Anything can go wrong at any time, cellphone or not, and maybe that phone won’t be of any help anyway. We’ve let technology rule our lives to the point that an adult–albeit young and small–was told not to go do something because of what could happen.
That’s just no way to live.