Monday, August 10, 2009
On Friday evenings we go to the library for our summer reading club prizes. This week my three-year-old won a little pink pail and shovel. “Just what we needed to go to the beach!” I told the librarian. My poor kids have been taking empty chlorine buckets to the beach because none of the stores I frequent carry pails and shovels.
She lifted up her pail and shovel and asked, “We go to the beach now?”
“Not now, honey,” I answered, wishing that I had time to take them that weekend. The salty air would help with clearing up my allergic cough.
She carried that pail and shovel around the house and yard with her all weekend, repeatedly asking until bedtime, “We go to the beach now?”
So finally Monday morning comes around with promising weather and nothing on our schedule. We go to Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, carrying nothing but a jug of water, lunch bag, and towels.
I’d spent the morning answering emails and telephone calls and, with my cell phone turned off, I felt free of electronic communications as soon as I left the house.
My husband has been joking that I am going to be sucked into “The Matrix” because I have been spending so much time on the computer. Now that I have my laptop with wireless internet, I can keep it on all the time and go back and forth between that and household business whenever we are in the house.
I carried it upstairs to my desktop computer one night so I could copy my favorite websites from one to the other. I started to get confused working with two computers at once, typing on one keyboard and wondering why it wasn’t showing up on the right screen. That’s when Kevin came up the stairs and made his Matrix joke.
My husband hates computers, the internet, and cell phones. Never mind that he now needs the computer to run his business; he has me to take care of that end. I also forced him to get a cell phone after he got a flat tire in Deer Park at 9:00 one night and had to walk three miles to find a working pay phone.
Our “best man”, Ted, who works in management for the software business, is up on all the latest technology. He laughs at Kevin’s beeper. “You have to make the technology work for you,” he says, as he lays his Blackberry on our kitchen table. A call comes in; he looks at the caller id and ignores it. “See?” Then he explains why “peoplepc” is not an acceptable email suffix for professionals and convinces me to switch over to Gmail.
Really I am an outdoor girl at heart. The computer is just a tool for my writing. I wish I could sit up in a maple tree, as I used to do when I was little, pen some stories into a notebook, and send them anonymously to a publisher, like Louisa May Alcott. Things don’t work like that anymore.
I used to think that it would be great to have a laptop and sit at the beach and write. But once I get there, I am happy not to have it with me. We sit on the white, rocky sand and stare into the face of a white pigeon. The sky is a light blue with puffy little white clouds here and there. Little boats sit beyond the buoys and I wonder who is on them. The older three kids plunge into the water and my three-year-old, shovel and pail in one hand, holds her other hand out to me. We go down to the water. She dares herself to go up to her neck and a speeding boat sends a wave that spills into her mouth.
“Are you okay?”
She laughs in response.
And I realize I haven’t coughed once since we got there.
“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
Moses before the Burning Bush
Domenico Feti, 1613-14
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna