When we first arrived at the Forest Service compound in Buffalo Creek, Colorado I was feeling disconcerted for certain. It wasn’t just that we were very secluded in our location, or just the lack of cell phone service, or just the absence of the Internet, or just the house being coated in a decades worth of transient filth. It was that all of those things were true and happening at once.
Let’s unravel those one at a time shall we?
We are very secluded in our location:
Buffalo Creek isn’t even a town it’s a community. So you can’t go into town because there isn’t one. Oddly enough, there are tons of people around because it’s a high recreation area where people mountain bike and camp but you aren’t interacting with those people. So you’re surrounded and secluded at the same time.
It is a 40-minute drive to the grocery store and an hour to anything of significance. If I want Ani to interact with other kiddos I will be driving an hour at minimum.
There is a lack of cell phone service:
It is a 15-minute drive to the closest cell phone coverage from where we live. I have been on fires in the backcountry of Alaska with cell phone coverage so what is the deal Colorado?
I am not someone who is attached to my smartphone for all the things a smartphone does but I do find it important to be able to communicate with people. We have a landline but cannot make long-distance calls on it so unless someone calls us? We are incommunicado.
There is an absence of the Internet:
This one hurts. I certainly wouldn’t have grasped just how often I jump online until my feet were glued to the floor like they are now, no jumping anywhere. Everyday actions are guided by information provided on the World Wide Web. If it’s worldwide why hasn’t it reached Buffalo Creek (BC) yet?
Actually, it had reached BC. However, the Forest Service forgot to pay the bill for half a year and it was shut off. So, in theory, we may get the Internet at some point but I’m not holding my breath.
The house is coated in a decades’ worth of transient filth:
Mouse poop y’all. Mouse poop in the kitchen cabinets, mouse poop in the closets, mouse poop in the dresser drawers. Hardcore dirt and grime embedded in the floors, baseboards, and walls. Super scummy bathtub, molding caulk, peeling paint, and windows so dirty it’s like trying to see out of a bug smeared windshield. It is Dirrrrr-T.
So I was mad. I was mad about all these things separately and collectively. I don’t enjoy having to force Ani to sit in the car nearly all day, at least every other day. I don’t like sitting in a parking lot frantically trying to text people back 3 days worth of communication before Ani gets mad and we have to leave. There’s so much more to say on this topic but I imagine you get my point.
But here’s the other side:
We have no distractions. We talk to each other a lot more than we did before being disconnected. I use to feel irritated when Ian would have his 2 phones and iPad surrounding him like the solar system and now he does not. There are no barriers. There is no Netflix to occupy our “quality time.” We don’t even have a deck of cards!
We have both been reading exponentially more than usual and I have been writing every day. I can hear the elements through the open window.
One of my intentions for this fire season that I am taking off was to continue my healing process. I can’t help but feel that I have intentionally been stripped of all connections (on some cosmic level that is) in order to figure out what I need so I’m able to re-connect the broken components of my person.
My feelings wax and wane about this seemingly every other day. Some days I feel thankful for the liberation from technology, some days I am incredibly frustrated by the added burden associated with trying to simply get a basic message to someone.
Ultimately, we are in a throwback to the ’80s using a hard-line phone that doesn’t make long-distance calls, has no caller ID, and is not cordless. The Internet does not exist in our world and we scoop up the local free papers to get our information about the goings’-on of the area.
How many people can truly do a throwback to the ’80s in our modern society? Perhaps not many would want to and it certainly wasn’t our plan but here we are. Maybe I should really get this thing going and start tight rolling my pants again.