The kids got phones yesterday. They’re 9 and almost 7. Charlotte clasped her hands and said, mine has The Internet! Lily sat on the steps in the dark and lost herself in the folds of the display. They were both hand-me-down phones and I didn’t question it; they may have active data plans we’ll have to monitor or lock down, I don’t know.
When I got home we had a five minute layover before leaving for soccer practice and were pretty much late already. The girls talked over one another about the phones and the circumstances and next steps, and how it was linked to Dawn’s mom needing a new phone and depending on which one of ours she chose, they would get the leftovers. Everyone needs phones, it’s part of growing up.
Charlotte (6) ran around the outside of the house a few times before getting in the car, saying she had lemonade with caffeine in it and needed to run to calm down.
When we got to practice, Charlotte and I sat and talked about her birthday. She said she wanted to talk, and this was an obvious topic. I suggested we walk down the path behind the soccer field: it led somewhere natural-looking, beneath some power lines.
There were blackberry bushes along the path and when I touched the berries to see if they were ripe, they vibrated, then stopped. We had driven so deep into the development, we lost track of where we were. I found a ping pong ball on the path and offered it to Charlotte, asked if she knew what it was called. I said ping pong, and she said she had that word in her head right before I said it.
We came to a pond and spied some ducks and dragonflies, and Charlotte called them lily-pods, on the water, what frogs use if they don’t feel like swimming. Her eyes matched my shirt and I held it up to her face, and her face reflected blue back: light-peppered freckles across her nose and cheeks, summer freckles.
I never needed a phone but got one because I thought I should, and then nothing much happened. Before that time I got to wear a pager and that was really something, a real show of status. Like tracking a wild animal, about to go extinct.
At work, I offered to help another department refine one of their processes: they call it the Global Supply Chain Store Development Product Lifecycle Management Process.
The words run left to right and fill the header, written by people who don’t understand how words sound when other people read them.
At home, I have my first smartphone in my sock drawer, with random things like hacky sacks from college, foreign bills, prescription glasses from a generation or two ago, sex toys, drug paraphernalia, passports, a bag of lavender from southern France, knives, special pens that are too expensive I’m afraid I’ll lose them, watches that need repaired, a jock strap from my vasectomy: all of it for a post-apocalypse we’ll never see.
The phone cost $500 and my mom gave it to me for my birthday before Charlotte came, 2007, and our friend Erica’s 8 year old son showed me how to get on the Internet with it, and handed it back.