I've been e-free for two weeks: no cell phone, no e-mail, no Twitting or Tumbling, very little television, and zero consulting of the Google. I carried an actual paper notebook, a smoothly-writing pen, and my camera.
It was only strange for the first two days.
I could just as easily blame the strangeness on travel as much as having all that freed-up time and no pings of contact from the wider world. Even though I won the economy-class lottery jackpot (a solo seat in the AB aisle meant that I was able to sleep flat, curled up tight as a bean on the flight from Philly to Roma), the change of location and time is still a shock to the system. Not brag-complaining.
It took a few days for my handwriting to regain some of its bygone neatness –– much typing in the past few months. Time stretched: without an online Scrabble game or random link to visit, it was just me and my paper, and my eyes looking around.
I gobble up books while traveling. Self-control for any bookworm requires an attempt to regulate the hours spent with a nose in a book. Trying to keep a lid on it, I permit reading on the treadmill, for an hour before sleep or at noontime, and, of course, any time on a plane or a train or when someone else is driving. Not having an e-reader, I prepared for this trip as usual: my carry-on bag is well stocked. I fear running out of words before running out of time.
On the connection into Philly, I gulped down Gail Caldwell’s memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home. It starts, heartbreakingly, with, “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died, so we shared that, too. “ I bawled my eyes out.
As for the rest of the airplane time there and back again, it went in a series of swoops and flights: Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue and Vanesssa Diffenbaugh's The Language of Flowers, and my favorite of the trip, Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters. I've got a lot to say about that -- whole pages in my travel journal -- but it will wait for another day.
Here in the real world, back on my own side of the big pond, my e-connections are buzzing and glowing. 283 e-mails. 14 voice messages. 22 Facebook notifications, 134 e-mails on the other address, and 12 voice messages on the other phone. Winnowed down: four good e-mails, six valuable phone messages, and a lot of gossip on Facebook.
How many minutes would it have been for me to check these things during these e-free days?
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