My best friend is Jake. We met in high school, spent most of our days together and then went to college in separate states. He went to CSU in Fort Collins and I went to SPU in Seattle. We talked over the phone almost every day. After college, Jake decided to come to Seattle for a month. He found a job and ended up staying there longer than I did. We lived together for three years. The last year, we had really begun to settle into our ground floor apartment in Ballard.
One summer, my Dad came to visit me. We made a few trips around the city and one trip to Deception Pass. When he first arrived, he just wanted to relax. We stayed in the apartment, shades drawn and television on. Jake and I shared the large couch with our laptops open on our laps. My dad rested on the smaller couch. We didn’t say much to each other except what we were seeing pop up in our Facebook news feed.
My Dad retold this story to me the other day, laughing at how we didn’t even talk to each other. I was horrified. I try so hard to not let technology get in the way of connecting with other people. I have a smart phone that I am wary of ever pulling out, barely using its capacity. I have a laptop that I usually never take out of my room. I have headphones that I only use in bed.
The story first served to unnerve me, then reminded me how far I have come. It unnerved me because the strength it takes to quit the addiction to technology. I want to be clear that I am still largely connected; I am only trying to find appropriate times to plug in. I don’t ALWAYS need to have headphones in when I walk, nor do I always need my laptop with me in a coffee shop. A book and journal will do just as well.
The other night I was making my way home in a car. The music was loud and I had the windows down. It suddenly struck me what that story was really about, maybe only another way to view what was happening. Jake and I have been friends for over ten years. In high school, and summer breaks from college, we would drive around Denver late at night listening to our favorite bands. Sometimes we would sing along, but often we just played the music loud and drove fast. We would both stare into the darkness of the city’s suburbs. Thinking about the families home, asleep. Not knowing what was going to happen next. We didn’t talk to each other, but that does not mean we weren’t connected. Our friendship was growing without words to nurture it. Art nurtured our friendship. Connected us in a way that clearly we will never forget. Sometimes you don’t need words.