The scenic lane home

Published 11:12 am Friday, May 3, 2024

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Last week, I was in the car with my mom, driving along the highway, when we came to a bus that was stopped at our old street.

I grew up on a quaint road in Landrum, and I know every bump in that road, every tree that shades it, and the names of all my neighbors I passed on the way to my childhood home. 

Last week, sitting in the line of traffic, two kids stepped out of the yellow bus. They had hoods on (it was about 80 degrees outside), and both were staring down at their phones. 

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I wondered for a second if the little schoolgirl was the same one I had babysat when I lived on that street but later came to realize she was one of the kiddos who now lives in my old house. 

I knew her exact walk to that house. I knew the door she would walk through, how it would sound as it opens, and what blooming trees she would see on her way there. It’s the second-to-last house on the right, the one with the oak tree. Her bedroom is the room where I grew up, wrote novels as a teenager, and cried over my first breakup. The walk to that house is so beautiful.

And she was looking at her phone. 

Last Wednesday, my Microsoft Word completely crashed and deleted every single article, column, and essay I’d ever written. Even two original manuscripts are gone forever (thankfully published already, however.) 

Devastated as I was, the unfortunate turn of events left me with at least two additional unpublished manuscripts, the outline of one article, and some old files I was able to pull from emails I’d sent.

Ugh, I complained all day about how I would rather break my wrists and nails working on a typewriter every day than depend wholly on an Apple laptop. Truly, it is never worth losing the archive of everything you’ve ever written just for the convenience of what a laptop offers. (I’ll argue that with anyone who wants to fight me on it.)

And that schoolgirl on my old street, the prettiest lane I knew as a kid, was staring at her phone. 

I might not give anything, but I’d give something to just be able to be her age again and trekking that road in the springtime. What’s she going to remember when she’s 25 and trying to recall the place where she grew up? A TikTok video she saw as she hopped off the school bus one day? 

Absolutely not. And thank goodness I didn’t neglect my surroundings and beautiful nature because of a screen. The thing about screens––they train your attention span to last about five seconds. Growing up without one, I can remember every pothole and crack on that road and wouldn’t miss a beat if I were walking it again. 

In some twisted way, technology fails us every single time we lay eyes on it. 

I’m just glad I was 25 years old before I allowed it to fail me. One archive I didn’t at least have to lose to Apple? The walk home on that scenic lane.