There was a summer in which I had no official home, sometimes lacked plumbing, and was never quite sure when I’d find a washing machine or internet connection. Best of all, I spent 100% of my off-work hours in steel-melting heat without air conditioning.
This was not camp. This was my regular life in the city, surrounded by regular clean people. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt more brilliant, more capable, more disciplined or more rested than I did in those months.
I was between leases, living in the home of a traveling acquaintance. I agreed to check the mail and water a plant, and by the end of the summer I’d crammed like 200 armfuls of my own stuff into his place.
I wasn’t squatting. You know how people make those polite, automatic offers and everyone knows social protocol is to sort of pretend the offer was never made? (“Do you need help painting your house?” “If you ever need someone to talk to at 3am, my phone will be on.” “You’re welcome to stay at my place.”)
So I had rent-free lodgings! Not a lot of amenities, as you’ve read. Then some water pipes burst underground, split the parking lot into sixty pieces and required about four nonconsecutive, unannounced days of waterless frustration. Did I mention the average temperature was 110º? There comes a point when you just have to give up on deodorant.
These were some of the finest months of my life, for two reasons: no internet, and sunset walks.
Without gmailfacebookhuluyahoocnn.com, I read more than two pages a day (my current average). The Wall Street Journal by day, to educate myself, and Faulkner by night, to fill my head up with pretty thoughts. And when it was time for bed I went to bed. There was no late night emailing, make-believe vacation planning or questionable-video watching. Just me, my books, and a mattress on the floor.
There obviously wasn’t a TV either.
That’s why I’m only blogging three days a week for now. That’s why I’m declaring every Thursday an internet-free zone. That’s why I very much want you to get off the internet, just for now.
*Ask me about the sunset walks tomorrow night.
P.S. In that one weird summer, I had a higher-than-average number of new friends, dates and freelance offers. Don’t even tell me you have to be clean to be a success.