Unplugged, disconnected, wireless-less.
Those are scary words in this age of techno-dependence. But here we are, working to get settled in ‘oil-boom central’ on the plains of North Dakota and quickly learning to accept the inherent inconveniences of living in a town thrust headlong into an unprecedented economic boom that has outpaced the infrastructure needed to support it. The news I received from the telephone company yesterday was that installation of phone and internet service would require a wait of no less than 2 to 3 months!
This place is a curious amalgamation of two worlds moving at very different speeds. A near constant breeze moves effortlessly across rolling grasslands and golden wheat fields, lending an ethereal undertone to the Prairie.
It swirls around me like a thousand echoes from the past. At times I can almost hear the ancient tribal drums, the anguish of immigrant women in childbirth, and the stubborn plodding of plows through thick buffalo grass. And I can sense the unremitting determination that has allowed generations of wheat farmers to hold fast to their land.
Existing simultaneously is the parallel world of the oil boom that one cannot understand until it is experienced. An endless river of diesel engines stream along asphalt highways that snake through stark landscapes dotted with oil rigs. Like a giant ant colony, a constant frenzy of supplies and workers move in and out of the oil field twenty-four hours a day. An army of hard working men overwhelm the handful of restaurants and two grocery stores that feed it. The night sky is ablaze with a canopy of millions of stars reflected like flickering candles in the flames of hundreds of oil flumes.
Yet even now, in the midst of the biggest “gold rush” this country has seen since the 49ers flocked to California to seek their fortune, there is a raw, earthy quality to this place that draws me in.
I feel a kinship with this part of the country that has stubbornly refused to change. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have always been drawn to the past and often experience an almost melancholy longing for simplicity; as though I am somewhat asynchronous with my own time. I frequently find myself stubbornly resisting the rapid current of forward motion that surrounds me.
Even so I will admit that initially the idea of being without the conveniences of technology for months hit me with the same cold-turkey freak out I would have if I was informed that latte’s and snacks had mysteriously vanished from the planet. No e-mail or chatting? No Googling? And as our household’s primary media source is Amazon Prime, it appears that movies are out as well!
But there is another side of me that is almost relieved to know that the invisible intruder I have long suspected of robbing my life of something precious has been apprehended, if only for a time. I have delivered many a soap-box rant about time wasted in front of the television, the black-hole of surfing, and the evils of social media. As fate would have it I am about to become the subject of my own technology deprivation experiment.
By the way, this blog along with several to follow will obviously be published post facto. Isn’t life ironic?