(As always, from the pages of Preston Carr – Timothy)
Did you see that trailer?
I’m not sure why I do that. I don’t try. It’s just…how I am? I wouldn’t say it’s being dishonest. Just trying to keep it together.
Hey, I have plans actually, sorry.
I know, I think I peed a little bit. Clearly should have packed an extra pair of pants.
We can talk about it later. This is a lot over text.
Sorry, COMPLETELY forgot to respond to that.
I took a picture of myself making a dumb huh? kind of face, hit send, and set my phone face-down on the table.
Even with half my push notifications turned off, the phone served as a regular distraction.
Get bored, send a tweet, post something on Facebook, Snapchat a few people. and shoot out a few texts, and you start up a communication fire that can take hours to go out.
I looked outside. There was a grey, rusting Volvo stopped at a green light. The driver was texting, unaware she was free to move forward. A horn honked, her head shot up, and she set the phone aside as she took her foot off the brake and continued.
The open road before her, and she didn’t even notice. Was the response that important? Or did she just get bored waiting at the light for the whole 30 seconds it had been red.
You’d think texts and social media would have taught us patience. When you talk to someone in person, replies are instant, both physically and vocally. Send something digitally, and you have to wait. Yet, somehow, that’s made us more impatient.
And a lot of the time, it just leaves me feeling lonely and anxious. More so than when I was disconnected from it all. All that waiting, makes a guy want to pick up smoking again.
There’s some irony here. Not in the smoking. In the connected but feeling disconnected. Obviously.
As I tapped my fingernails against the black coffee table, I struggled to remember what it was like before it all. I lived over half my life without a cellphone. Heck, I lived almost half of it without internet. My family was one of the last of my social circle to get internet.
Seemed like a different person’s life.
My phone had a scratch on the back of it. Not sure how it got there. Could have been a hundred different things. If I turned it over, would my notification light be flashing?
Sometimes, I convince myself to not check my phone for a while, saying “hey, just think of how many notifications and messages you’ll have a few hours from now.”
Then I’ll feel all special and important. That’s a stupid reason, I think.
A few weeks ago, I got talked into going to a fair with some married friends of mine. I’m not sure how they convinced me. They all have kids. Every 20 feet, every one would stop, and they’d smash everyone shoulder to shoulder, and they’d take 10 pictures of everyone.
Teddy, over here! Look at mommy!
No Fred, move over. You’re not in the picture.
Oh, it’s blurry, we have to take it again.
So caught up in capturing the moments, that no one was actually experiencing the moments. The outing felt like my senior pictures or pre-prom pictures all over again, except stretched out for hours.
Torture. I didn’t get it. And what were they going to do with all of these pictures?
My friends Denise and Fred must have at least 2000 pictures of their two year old, not to mention hours of videos. Who is going to see all of them? I don’t think there’s that many pictures of me during my entire existence.
Who knows though…
Maybe hundreds of years from now, some guy will stumble upon an old hard drive, and he’ll find the 300 pictures Denis and Fred took at the fair, and he’ll imagine what it was like, and he’ll pretend that he was there.
The guy will see Denise and Fred’s love for each other and their kid, and he’ll think of how simple and fun our little fairs must have been. And then he will cry a tiny little future tear.
The future person will end up enjoying the day more than any of the people who were actually there.
I looked around the coffee shop. There was some old guy in the corner who was either on a Bluetooth earpiece, or he was telling stories to himself. I really couldn’t tell which it was.
Straight ahead was man with a grey beard, grandpa glasses, and a striped turquoise shirt that was clearly stitched together in the 90’s. He was alone, filling out a puzzle and drinking from a stained ceramic mug. No cellphone in sight.
I liked to think he didn’t even have one. Everywhere he went, that’s where he was. Whoever he was with, he was with just those people in that place at that time.
And right now, he was with himself and his coffee and his puzzle and that was all he needed.
I leaned forward, elbows on the table, and watched the wooden blades of the ceiling fan slowly cut through the air. I had forgotten about my phone altogether. This was a good Saturday. A beautifully ordinary moment.
People always ask me why I go to coffee shops.
How can I sit there for hours?
I say I go to read and to write and to get some alone time.
That’s true, but sometimes, I think I just go to get away. To exist in a moment. Take in its sounds. Feel it’s texture.
Even though I was there alone today, I didn’t feel alone. I felt alive.
And though there won’t be any dude from the future reliving the day’s moments through pictures, this seems so much more real. If future people can still read, I guess he’ll just have to read about it.
I think that’s part of why I love to write. You get to experience the moment, completely and fully, and then you share it afterwards.
I breathed in, lifted my elbows back off the table, and I turned my phone over.
Oh, I typed, I completely misread that.