I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in September of 1995, going on 20 years ago. I was just a few weeks shy of my 25th birthday, and had never lived away from the rest of my family and friends I’d grown up with in Arvada, Colorado.
I stayed with a college friend in Burlingame, California for a few weeks until I found a place of my own, downstairs from an elderly music teacher named (don’t laugh) Mrs. Trippy.
Other than my college friend and a girl I’d met over the phone and thought I was in love with (people used to fall in love over the phone: imagine how different the show Catfish would be if people actually spoke over the phone first) I knew virtually nobody in the Bay Area.
It was a great house in the Millbrae hills, and I had a view overlooking the San Francisco Bay that I now realize I took sorely for granted. And, as I settled into my new digs, with the family I’d grown up with a thousand miles away a thousand miles away, with only a telephone and a small black-and-white TV giving me access to the outside world, I began to feel alone in a way I’d never felt before, in fact never even was aware was possible. It was a choking, black thing that took months to adjust to. I’d always fancied myself a brooding artist who craved solitude, but my solitude in Colorado was the solitude of someone who knew that someone was on the other side of the door to the next room.
It was 1995, and I didn’t work for the government or in high-tech, so there was no cell phone, no Internet (and I think the cell phones of 1995 were Gordon Gekko monstrosities and every Web page had the warmth and interactivity of a Craigslist post). If you wanted to be around people, you had to go to them, or call them on the telephone…they weren’t gonna come to you. It all seems incredibly primitive in retrospect…compared to the conveniences of today, a scant 18 years later (an eyelash in the eye of human history), I might as well have been sleeping outdoors next to a campfire.
Well, my second day off Facebook hasn’t been quite that isolated: I have a wife, a son, 18 or so private guitar students, and musician friends and colleagues, so I don’t have to look quite so far for human contact…but the “cut off” feelings that have hit me on day 2 definitely take me back a little bit.