We can’t jump off bridges anymore because our iPhones will get ruined. We can’t take skinny dips in the ocean, because there’s no service on the beach and adventures aren’t real unless they’re on Instagram. Technology has doomed the spontaneity of adventure and we’re helping destroy it every time we Google, check-in, and hashtag.
My best friend and I once got lost in Connecticut. We were juniors in high school, it was 2004, and we were lost in the state we’d grown up in together. We kept driving, hopeless and amused, using the signs on the road and our spotty intuition as our guides. We sang songs in the car as our cell phones, incapable of no more than a phone call, sat like bricks in our pockets. There wasn’t a map of the world conveniently in the palm of our hands, no app to see how many people had gotten lost before us, no way to research the best local diners in the state. We were lost and it was awesome.
Flash-forward almost ten years later and I’m on the beach in the Rockaways with my little brother. We’ve been laying out in the sun for an hour and I’m checking my phone every five minutes to see if I’ve missed any calls from work. He’s feverishly texting the girl he’s been swooning over for days and I’m trying to decide whether I want to update my Twitter now or take a picture and upload it in the car. We get off the beach and wander on the boardwalk, I Google the best place for cheap seafood and we’re lead to a little restaurant a couple minutes from where we are. Yelp tells me to avoid the fish ‘n’ chips, so I settle on the clam chowder. My brother orders a beer and we talk about how hot it is. My weather app tells me it’s only getting hotter, I relay that to my brother. We’re about ready to go and he tells me he wants to take one more dip in the water before we head to the car. I agree. He was always competitive when it came to running, so we raced as fast as we could to the ocean and jumped in without hesitation. We laugh and surface, covered in seaweed, and I feel a dull vibration in the pocket of my shorts. I brush it off and dunk my head back underwater. I can’t see anything because my eyes sting and I feel my thigh vibrate again. I reach into my pocket and pull out my iPhone. Completely soaked, vibrating itself to death, hot and sluggish as a dog that’s been left in a car all day. I panic. My life is over. My life isn’t really over, but it’s over.
It’s 1998 and my family and I are inside the Museum of Natural History. We’re waiting in line for tickets when my little brother tells me he needs to go to the bathroom. I nod and he leaves. Twenty minutes go by, I’m distracted and reading about dinosaurs and I hear my older brother ask where Adam went. I look around and notice he’s gone. I panic, we all panic. He doesn’t have a cell phone, no one has a cell phone. The only mobile phone is attached to my father’s car, which is parked god knows where. We all search for him, my older brother and mom are crying and I keep thinking that it’s my fault because I didn’t come with him to the bathroom. There’s no way to find him, he doesn’t know where he is, we were all miserably lost. Eventually a security guard brings him to us. He had wandered down towards the subway.
Back in the car with my best friend, we had given up trying to find even a hint of a way home and settled upon taking only left hand turns. We enter a strange town. I’ll never forget the name of it: Nepaug. We both say it out loud, concluding that the town must have been erected that very morning in preparation for our lost asses to end up within it. To our left is a strip-mall and to our right is a store that only says “Puppet Church” — it’s incredibly intriguing. Further down the road, we spot the oasis in the desert; Dairy Queen. We each order a milkshake and sit on the hood of my car, talking about what life is going to be like after high school.
I remember the time I picked up my girlfriend from her friend’s house in Massachusetts. She was going to school down in Georgia and this was the first time I’d seen her in months. “We’re back together…finally.” I tweeted, tagging both of our Twitter handles in the status. The flash on my iPhone annoys her and she asks me to put my phone away. I begrudgingly agree and I start to drive. I put my home address into the GPS and follow the voice. She asks me if I want to get lost with her. I ask her what she means and she tells me that she wants to get lost. I ask her where she wants to go and she shrugs. I tell her that there is an interesting looking coffee shop only 2.3 miles away and she sighs. I turn off the GPS and drive. A few minutes go by and I get antsy. I turn the GPS back on and follow the voice, she crosses her arms and is silent all the way back to my house.