Sunday, July 20, 2008

Electrons Roam Freely Now

Last weekend was Week 4 in my forced experiment to see how many consecutive weekends I could traverse Hwy 400 north of Barrie. This weekend, which would have been Week 5, is being spent at home - looking for some normalcy (ya right).

Back to Week 4. It was the final sojourn to Dee's family cottage, with the express purpose of picking up the kids and bringing them home again. I always enjoy these missions of mercy because I know that the kids will be waiting for us on the cottage dock with the ruddy-faced thousand mile stare that says, "I need pizza. I need neon lights. I need a shower without mice for companionship. And I need The Internet".

It's nice to be loved.

The minor goal for the weekend was to help Dee's Dad complete some deck and dock repairs. Even after 20 years as part of Dee's family, I'm still a 'marry-in' and I still feel like I need to be pitching in. The fact that Dee's Dad is shade past 70 years and can out-work me might have something to do with it, too.

With chores done, we left for home on Sunday. Being at the mercy of an available boat driver to take us back to the marina, we inevitably left the cottage a few hours later than I had hoped. While this has been the way of things for two decades, it still puts me in a slightly black mood as I contemplate the drive ahead. As is the custom, our arrival at the marina means that I jump out of the boat, tie off, and head up the hill to bring the van down for loading. Whilst I search for the van, the rest of the crew hauls the luggage from the boat and drags it up the ramp for loading.

This time, there was a hitch. As I brought the van to a stop at the top of the loading ramp, I noticed JediBoy holding on to my embarrassingly old-skool iPod - his arms outstretched with the the unit in one hand and the ear-buds in the other. Odd, I thought. Why would he have my iPod just now? I then noticed Dee's Dad holding my pack with his arm held out in front of him.

In a flash, I knew what had happened. JediBoy had tripped on the ramp and let go of the pack he was carrying. The pack - my pack - landed in the oily marina water. A nearby dock-steward fished it out with a pole, but the pack had been submerged for a solid minute.

The pack - my pack - contained clothes, a book, a magazine, and electronic stuff: my old iPod, my old handheld GPS, and my seriously-needed Palm Tx. In the following few minutes I took whatever measures I could to remove water from everything while projecting an air of calm for all those around me. The clothes would dry, but everything else - books and devices - would not fare so well.

That was a week ago. Today, the book has been replaced (the old one was unreadable) and the iPod seems blissfully unaware that it ever went for a swim. The Palm, however, is battered and near death. I was able to retrieve the important data there (phone numbers, calendar entries, and little notes to myself), but the screen is mostly ruined, the battery charging circuitry is dead, and the wireless support is trashed. As for the GPS - he flickered to life a few times and even worked for a few minutes. Ultimately, he's trash, too.

I've gone through the emotions. Anger gave way to a resolve to fix things. My resolve eventually gave in to acceptance. JediBoy feels terrible about things, of course. So I've had to make a point to let him know he did nothing wrong, and that's sometimes it's okay to be upset about a situation without needing to place blame on anyone.

I've suppressed the need to run out and buy replacements for this stuff. That's all it is - stuff. The GPS was a gift from long ago. The Palm was an impulse eBay purchase. Both were useful while they were alive, but I think I'm going to try going solo for a bit and see what happens.

I feel positively Amish about my new-found freedom - untethered from needing to know exactly where I am, exactly what I should be doing, and exactly where The Internet might be lurking. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a new Disney podcast cued up on my iPod.