Yesterday, my internet worked for a random two hours. I watched How To Get Away With Murder and then worked on a blog post.
And then my internet died, and I along with it.
It hasn’t worked in over a week. First, my old router (bought used from a friend over a year ago, so I guess it was old) died. My landlords told me (well, they didn’t tell me directly because they don’t speak English, and I, being a dumbass, loser American, speak pretty much nothing but English, except some brief occasions, usually drunken, when Spanish will come out of my mouth, but it’s definitely horrible Spanish; so my landlords communicate with me via a middleman administrator at my school) I needed to buy a new router.
Seeing as I’ll only be here until July, I just went out and bought something that looked cheap yet adequate. I handed it to my landlords. It took several days to get their tech person to come to the apartment and configure it.
It did not work when I got it back from the landlords. Some ‘captive’ error.
A friend recommended Apple’s AirPort because they’re super easy to set up. I decided to take my happiness into my own hands and purchase the device.
It worked perfectly for two hours, and then stopped. I stopped along with it.
Usually I try to push through at times like this. I know crying may soothe (in a cathartic way) the burn of frustration, but it does nothing to remove the source of heat.
But I really had no other options, no positive steps could be taken.
I sat in my bed crying, wondering why I was here, in this bed, in this apartment, in this city, in this country, on this planet, in this universe.
Crying because I had no wireless internet. And I know that sounds ridiculous when in Flint, Michigan people cannot bathe.
So I tried to peel away this frustration and expose the source of pain. Was I really just pissed about not having internet? I couldn’t be that juvenile, could I? I remembered my time in Kenya, junior year, when I studied abroad at a small research station that got very limited internet. We occasionally Skype’d our families back home, but the connection was spotty. We were not allowed to use Facebook (but we did anyway) because the bandwidth was so low. In Taiwan, I was in despair spending a week not being able to watch my favorite shows online; but in Kenya, we went three months without watching our favorite shows.
Do you notice something different about this description of Kenya versus Taiwan? I did as I was in my bed thinking about Kenya, retrospectively one of the most challenging but also most enjoyable three months of my life.
I I We We We I I We I We I I I We We We I We I I We I We We We I I We .
This is what I realized crying in the fetal position on my bed. The internet is not the problem. Isolation is the problem. Loneliness is the problem. And I keep them at bay with Hulu and Netflix. And without those avenues, I am exposed to these problems.
I’m barely capable of communicating with my landlords. The most seemingly simple things can take days to communicate properly. At work, I speak English with my students. After work, I communicate with almost no one. I connect with no one. There are evenings when I’ll go out with friends or colleagues. But most of the time, my life here is just solitary.
At times it’s almost like I’m invisible because I communicate with no one. But they can see me. It’s worse than being invisible.
I roll over in bed and call my sister in Maine. I call her to hear her voice and remind her I’m still here. She reassures me I’ll soon be back in America and all the great things that come along with it – language, friends, Donald Trump*. I laugh, and we say goodbye.
I lie in bed and repeat one word over and over again, almost like a mantra:
*We do not actually endorse Trump. This was a joke.