I live in the North Country. For those of you for whom this has no meaning, not only do I live in the part of New York that is not within commuting distance to NYC (or the greater metro area), but I actually live in upstate NY. It’s a trek to get anywhere. My closest grocery store is a Walmart ~12 miles from my apartment. The McDonald’s at the base of my lake closes in the winter from lack of year-round denizens. I can’t flush my toilet within an hour of taking a shower if I want my well to help produce pressure enough to wash my hair. No joke, last week my shower stopped mid lather because a house guest was in my kitchen getting a drink of tap water.
We do have some modern conveniences. My WiFi connection is strong enough that I can marathon the latest Netflix Original Series or host multiplayer online games on Steam (if it’s not windy), and if I walk a few paces down my street (beside my garden gnome next door neighbor’s crops) I have enough cell phone service to send and receive text messages–picture messages are another story.
I’ve been collecting people’s outdated Androids as hand-me-downs for the day that I can actually use them. I have one currently set up solely as my instagram box. I am the master of the #latergram. “Look! I saw a thing a day and a half ago that I thought you also needed to see! Share my experience! Now, feel free to validate me!”
Allegedly there’s a cell tower coming to town…eventually.
But at this point, a data plan doesn’t feel like a wise investment. I have internet access while I am at work, home, the market, the ice cream store, the bar, the gym…all I am missing is the distracted driving that comes from trying to connect to Waze. And texting my friend to let him know that I am omw. And confirming that location tag on Facebook. And replying to that comment on Disqus.
My life didn’t start in the mountains, and I won’t be here forever. And I’m not even trying to put down the wonders of the modern cell phone–I know that my iPhone inclined Brooklyn friends swear by HopStop to get into Manhattan without running into unplanned detours, and that Google/Siri are the direction-giving gas-station attendants for Millennials. But, DAMN, a data plan is expensive.
After I had been handed my third deemed “obsolete” smart phone, I started getting antsy. Is it acceptable for me to not be plugged in at all times? Hell, I know a guy who chose to be evicted rather than to terminate his iPhone contract. I made my way to the website of my wireless provider. It should be easy, I told myself. How many commercials about the awe-inspiring nature of UNLIMITED DATA have interrupted my online viewing pleasures? I was met pretty immediately by the paywall (and the beyond frustrating enigma of the Verizon Wireless site map). As a young professional who is currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, I don’t have $70/month to spend on a measly 4GB. I have a car to insure and gas up! I have birth control to buy! I’ve also been known to eat meals every so often.
And so, I’m back on the merry-go-round. When I get off, I’m where I started: surrounded by the pointed pines and the brilliant birches that dapple those 4G blocking majestic mountains. I’ll continue to take a break from the internet when I’m swimming in the lake or blazing a trail, for I know that I’ll be moving downstate soon enough, where the salaries meet the higher cost of living, and after-hour work emails reign supreme.
EEK is wrapping up a two year contract in the stunning Adirondack Mountains of New York state where she has learned the wonders of alone time, leaving your pipes running in sub-zero weather, and hosting budget-conscious house guests each weekend of the summer.