I was a gadget geek. Then a paper purist, haughty about the toys that tethered the unenlightened ones. Now I’m a gadget geek again.
Truth is, for all my Zen posing, my pared-down life wasn’t a conscious renunciation of what the Quakers call “cumber”. It was just that I kept losing shit.
I lost my Sony laptop. Two cellphones. A digital camera. A Palm PDA. A film camera (or three, if you count the ones I owned with my ex.) A few wallets. An iPod, given to me by Meetup. On my way to an interview for my new job at Stone Yamashita, I abandoned my IBM laptop on the A train platform at JFK–perhaps acting out a fear of San Francisco.
Mostly, I shrugged. It’s just stuff. I didn’t feel rich enough to replace it, so I took each loss as one less thing to fret about. My co-workers made fun of my gadget-repelling forcefield. My friends and family complained that they could never call me, but that was okay; I find a whining phone no better company than a mosquito.
But the stuff crept back into my life. Meetup kindly gave me another iPod. Hooked by that touch-me iPod, as groovy as Courreges go-go boots, I bought a Bose Dock so that it could live out loud. I celebrated my new job by replacing the lost laptop with a matching iBook, proud that I’d finally earned a product designed in California. When I got there, Stone Yamashita trumped it with a sleek 17″ PowerBook that made the iBook feel like an Etch-a-Sketch.
Before the move, I’d given in and bought a pay-as-you-go cellphone on eBay so that I could wrangle movers and realtors. Then Stone Yamashita handed me a BlackBerry that I clip to the strap of my backpack for full dorkish effect. It hasn’t helped my email twitchiness, though its clunky Canadian icons annoy me whenever I take a digital hit.
Yesterday we moved to new offices, just down the street on Brannan and Fourth, where the dotcom ghosts walk. It must have been wrenching for a small, cultish company to leave ten years of stories in the old loft we’d outgrown. To ease and celebrate the change, the partners handed us champagne and Shuffles, and fifty grown-up faces lit with glee.
I used to wander Brooklyn with a notebook, a pen, and a secondhand paperback. Now I schlep two laptops, two phones, and two iPods through SoMa (though I draw the line at listening to music in public: I can’t be in two places at once.) In the words of Mr. David Byrne, How did I get here?”