For the past few days, my Internet connection has been partially down. I think. I don't know what's actually going on, as I have zero techno-knowledge, but some sites look and connect up normally, while others don't. There's no discernible pattern. It's annoying, disconcerting, and a little scary (since I do a portion of my budget management online). It's also the tiniest bit liberating.
I often joke about living "off the grid." It's my go-to response when Rob shares a dismal news story he heard on his drive home. "That's it," I declare, throwing up my hands. "I'm selling everything I own and moving to a hippie commune!"
It's really a half-joke. With disrupted sleep and a hijacked body making me more irritable than usual, I long more than ever to escape. Relocating somewhere remote where I can learn to grow vegetables and just be away seems like a good start. Away from giant stores with their stifling air and petroleum-based everything. From the motorcycle enthusiasts who explode through our quiet neighborhood at 9:00 PM. From instant access to words and images I didn't want or need to see on my way to check my junk-filled e-mail.
The thing is, that instant access to the online world has been my substitute escape plan for months. Of course I can't actually go anywhere—even an overnight stay at a local hotel seems far beyond my reach right now—but I can distract myself by checking on such-and-such a Web site for the fifth time in two hours. It's straightforward, and pretty pathetic: I don't want to be inside my own life right now. I wonder what Flickr is doing? (This is probably when a better-functioning person would call a friend.)
Now, that kind of avoidance behavior isn't an option. Yesterday afternoon, during my prime idle-on-the-Internet time, I made gluten-free deep-dish pizza for dinner, and then—since I was already in the kitchen with the flours out—gluten-free bread so Westley could have toast in the morning. I scrubbed the bathroom, started some laundry...
It wasn't the escape I craved. Not by a long shot. I still felt antsy and irritable when I was finished. But I also felt good about myself for taking care of some things that needed to be done, rather than pretending to have important business to attend to online. And I was embarrassed by how small and isolated by life has become, and how I think I can fool myself into believing it's bigger by always logging in, clicking through, shutting (myself) down.
I don't need to sell anything or move anywhere to be away. I've already been partially gone.