We no longer have the internet in our wagon, which means that now when I want to visit happy shiny internet land, I have to walk a few minutes and sit in a painfully white, painfully windowless room at the university. Is it day? Is it night? Is it sunny? Is it raining? Who knows! We’ve got theses to write and emails to check! I shudder, remembering the days when the pressure of classes and grades kept me in rooms like this, writing for 48 hours straight, popping Ritalin, chugging coffee, having nervous breakdowns…
(This just in! Attending college is hazardous to your health. May lead to emotional instability, drug dependence, and the zombie-like symptoms of systematic brainwashing.)
When I leave the computer lab reality hits me like a brick wall–strangely, a transition more surreal and jarring than that to screen and internet–and I squint so that reality can only get in a little at a time. It’s a few steps outside of the building before I’m human again, not just words and pictures on an LED screen. And I wonder, will there be a day when I don’t make it back out? And I think to myself, thank cod we don’t have the internet at our house anymore.
Digging up the front garden last week, Karlsson says to me, “You know, if you live in a stone house (that’s what we call the places that aren’t wagons), you don’t notice the changes in the weather so much. All my co-workers keep complaining about how cold it is. I mentioned that it had gotten a lot warmer in the last week, asked them if they had noticed, but they hadn’t. At least in a wagon you’re closer to that, closer to nature.”
I nodded. From my bed (desk, couch) I can hear the wind, the rain on the roof, and the birds sing- ing in the bushes outside. I wake up, I get dressed, and I go outside. There’s no ignoring the weather. If it’s sunny we drink coffee and tea outside and pray it’s rea- lly spring this time. When it rains we curse the clouds and look longingly out windows. When it’s cold there are fires to light and no dial set perm- anently to “pleasant:” just you, some logs, the woodstove, and the chill of the season.
On the nights when you’re sick, it’s minus 10 outside, and you don’t fucking feel like chopping wood and lighting a fire, maybe you long, just for a second, for that dial. But then your friends help you out and you light the fire anyway and you sit in your warm cozy wagon trying to convince yourself that summer really will come again, reminding your- self of all the good things, how much you normally like chopping wood, how much you like being outside all the time, how much you like getting by on almost no money, and you think, keep your dial! To hell with convenience! All that hundreds of years of conven- ience have gotten us are melting ice caps, dying penguins, a viral-monoculture, and a Starbucks on every third corner. Give me the birds and the rain, the woodstove burns and dirty fingernails, the cold mornings, the wood, and the dirt.