Garbo’s daughter begged for a cell phone tonight.
Her argument, What if I’m by myself? It’s a concept she has trouble wrapping her mind around; she’s never known anything different. Her world is all about connection. How did you survive before cell phones and email?, she wonders. I wonder. But we did. Somehow it all worked. We managed. We got to parties and were picked up at airports and traveled through Europe and met for dinner and had meetings. We made movies and went to film festivals. Sometimes we were late or we missed each other. That was a funny story or an argument. But, here I am.
I’ve been off-grid for the last few days: sporadic phone, intermittent Internet, spotty texts, no Twitter. It’s unusual to not be available every moment. To be unconnected, wondering what is going on, what everyone’s doing. At first it feels weird. Then after a few days, freedom. This is what life used to be like. There was an excitement about coming home, wondering who called. You picked up the phone but you never knew who would be on the other line. Would it be for me? And then there was escape. Leaving the house. Unreachable. Now that is unthinkable. I wouldn’t leave the house without my phone, the same way I wouldn’t leave without my keys or my debit card (money, too, real money, is becoming a thing of the past, but that’s another conversation). There was spontaneity too. You ran into someone, because they happened to be there and not because you’d both checked in on Foursquare. And yet, for all that we are connected technologically, are we really connected? I love texting, emails, but it’s the beginning of the conversation, not the conversation itself. It’s part of the relationship, not the whole thing. For that I want a voice, dinner, drinks.
And silence. That is what I’ve been feeling over the past few days. It’s the silence I forgot about. The silence. Not just the one that comes when the iPhone cannot find a connection, but the one that comes when you wake up in the morning and there is nothing to check for, that comes when there is a pause in the conversation that’s not interrupted by answering email or texts, the one that comes when you are hanging out with someone you know, reading maybe or driving somewhere, and there is silence. And it is comfortable. And there is a lot of connection in that.