Today the challenge was "try a media fast." Turn off all of your devices. Maybe read a book? Take a nap? Make eye contact? Just be there in your house, and let the rest of the world fade away for a while. I felt a creeping panic from the minute I skimmed the email this morning, because once dinner is over and the dishes are taken care of, I typically plug myself into a Hulu marathon or I do a deep dive into Failblog or I spend way too much time chasing Internet rabbits down holes because distraction is my calling, and that's what I do until I sleep. I am an expert at self-distraction. It's a gift.
Yet I'm committed to this daily Apartment Therapy deal, whatever the cost. I WILL ENDURE THE EVENING WITHOUT THE PLEASURE OF MEME-BASED GIFS! I say to myself.
At about 8 pm I read the assignment to Jack, my oldest, who seemed skeptical but intrigued. And I figured, okay, I'll give it an hour. What will you do? He asked. Maybe I'll read a book, I said, knowing I will not read a book. Maybe I'll get out my sketch book and draw those lilies, I said, knowing that any attempts at drawing will just leave me feeling like a really bad artist. I didn't know what to do, is the truth. I felt this crazy pressure to do something creative or intellectual with my free time, as though just sitting still and talking were somehow not worthwhile. But also? I'm tired. And maybe even partly tired of people telling me to unplug, for the good of my health, and the good of society. Even though I know they're right, and civility matters, and blah blah blah, brainwaves. It's a tiresome theme.
Jack, who would usually retreat to his room at this point in the day, stayed in the living room with me. Coincidentally enough, his phone was at about 7%, his charger was lost, and he was about to go through an involuntary media fast of his own. There we were, marooned on a media-free island. And guess what happened?
My soon-to-be 16-year-old kid (HOLY FUCK, that's just not possible) and I spent two and a half hours talking about sex, and drugs, and religion, and politics, and navigating high school friendships, and surviving crazy families, and college, and career choices, and anxiety.
Two. And a half. Hours.
I'd go into the details of the conversation, but that would embarrass the hell out of my kid, and violate his privacy, and I know better. But I honestly feel closer to that boy tonight than I have ever felt in 16 years. Which is pretty astonishing.
So thanks, Apartment Therapy, for that. Thanks for that, and for the flowers.