19 11 2010

It’s the glow of the tiny LCD screen at one in the morning: beaming through the darkness a hue of brilliant excitement. The quick and sudden stimulation: pulsing loudly on hard surfaces, or humming against a pillow top. It’s knowing that the numbers go with names. And that those names have faces that smile back at you from the other side of a conversation; conversation made possible by technology that has become appendage.

Pre-continent leap, I met with AT&T to confirm that my cell phone service would be uncompromised throughout the rest of my contract, as part of which would be spent abroad. The young idiot behind the counter, in his light blue button down shirt, nodded while listening; as if the monochromatic blue tie was supposed to give him credibility. With his mouth wide open he assured me, “I assure you.” His tongue resting at the front of his mouth like it would fall out any second. He said there shouldn’t be any problems, “There shouldn’t be any problems.” The size of this guys wrist watch further antagonized my suspicion. It was phony, extravagant; gaudy.

The wheels of the airplane slowed to a crawl in the Inchon airport, I didn’t wait for the captain to announce it; I reached for my cell phone tucked in my sweatshirt pocket. I needed to know that I could call out, that I wasn’t alone; that if I had to (for two dollars a minute) I could call home, call someone; anyone. By the seventh failed attempt to reach my mom, I couldn’t  shake the image of that damn watch.

For over a month I survived off e-mail and Facebook, starving to hear familiar voices, see the names appear alongside text; light up the darkness of night. I was disconnected, unrequested in a place where no one knew my name. So when I finally got plugged in, I couldn’t imagine any use for the technology. I felt defeated. But almost three months later, I have several phone numbers in my new white touch screen. When I reached for my phone the other day, discovering I had two missed calls, you would have thought I won the lottery. I took a moment. Just sitting, realizing that this experience was familiar, that I use to have missed calls all the time. And that this feeling of excitement, was both disgusting and delightful: Because it felt like home.




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