We just switched internet companies a week ago, but we probably shouldn’t have because the internet went out the other night and it brought everything to a screeching halt. Because, as much as I hate to admit it, my life revolves around the internet. Sure, physically, I live in Spain, but there’s a large part of me that still resides in the US. And the internet makes this long distance commute possible.
It’s true that I can exit my apartment building and within 10 minutes find myself at the edge of the Mediterranean, but if ever I’m feeling like the distance is too great, I can open Facebook and get lost in the endless stream of updates, photos and comments from friends and family. And, yes, I can hop on a bus tonight and be in Madrid by tomorrow morning if I so desire, but, if ever I’m missing the city that came to feel like home, all I have to do is email my friends in New York City to get a glimpse into what’s happening in that corner of the world. And, definitely, as soon as I exit the apartment, I hear Spanish and see Spanish signs all around me, but, if ever I’m feeling like it’s all just a bit too foreign, I can pick up the phone and thanks to MagicJack, a gadget that plugs into the USB port of my computer, I can call my sister, my parents or my brother, and it feels like they’re just next door. And if ever I’m wondering what in the world am I doing here, I can sit down to write about our life here and, with a couple of clicks, I can share it with my friends and family. And, suddenly, my blog becomes a bridge and gives me the purpose and motivation to keep writing because everything’s better when shared with the people you love.
And all of this is thanks to the power of the internet. For without internet, Facebook’s seemingly nonstop chatter is abruptly silenced, emails can’t be delivered or received and MagicJack instantly loses all its magic. And, suddenly, my connection to the US is cut – and I live in Spain.
David knows how important the internet is to me. He knows that it helps make me feel connected and that I need it for the freelance work that I’ve managed to collect while here. So, when the internet went out, he immediately got to work trying to fix it. And when he couldn’t do it on his own, he got on the phone to try to get help from someone from the outside world. But the only thing that the guy on the phone could do was reset the entire system, and when it still wasn’t working, he had evidently exhausted his troubleshooting list and could only give us a number to call the next day. A number to call the next day? But it was only 10pm. What we were supposed to do until then? And while the minutes ticked by, my internet withdrawal set in. But there was nothing that could be done, so we ate and we slept and then we woke up, eager to see if the internet was working, but it wasn’t. So David called the number that was given to him and we found out that the company was having a central problem and that it would be fixed. When? She couldn’t tell us. But considering that it was Sunday and people don’t work on Sundays, I was certainly not holding my breath.
I remember when I lived in Paris in 2001. My roommate and I didn’t have internet in the apartment and we had to go to a little shop in the mall nearby and pay to use one of the three computers. As a result, my internet addiction was contained, limited to certain hours of the day.
Perhaps, it’s better that way. Perhaps, it’s better if I go offline a bit more often. It forces me to actually live where I live, to get out and interact with the community that’s just outside my door. It makes me enjoy what’s going on directly around me and write a postcard and open a Spanish book. And it even got me to iron (my mother-in-law would be so proud) and mop the floors and it motivated David to take out the sewing kit and fix a pair of jeans that had wanted to repair for a long while but, until then, had never actually gotten around to doing.
But there was only so much that we could take of that before desperation set in and we headed to David’s aunt’s house to have lunch – and connect to the internet. And, as the 48th hour without internet at home approached, it was all starting to feel a bit exaggerated. OK, OK, I’ve learned my lesson. Can someone please just make the internet work, already? And then, just like that, it was back on, my connection was restored and things returned to normal! Oh, sweet internet, how we missed you! Please don’t ever leave us like that again.