I took my Ella to a birthday party, and, though the house was in an older neighborhood built in the 1980s, I could tell right away that its interior had been artfully redesigned.
"I really like your home," I said to the mother of Ella's friend, fishing for secrets. "Is this the way it was when you moved in?"
"Oh, no, no," she said with a laugh. Then she proceeded to tell me about the dividing walls and tiny halls that her husband had knocked down to open up the space and the special touches she had added to the decor. "Of course, this island wasn't here, and the kitchen ceiling was lower," she added. "We raised all the ceilings."
"Raised the ceilings!" I cried. "Did you do all that yourself?"
"Oh, it was easy," she assured me. "My husband watches videos on YouTube."
The world has left me behind! I'm a simple woman in an era populated by new Renaissance Men and Women created by YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook. Everywhere around me ordinary individuals are raising ceilings, making cakes that look like hedgehogs, dancing the tango with steps they learned online, orchestrating elaborate games and decorations for their kid's birthday party based on others' pictures, constructing headboards from old barn doors and busts of Elvis from Styrofoam, and plaiting their daughters' hair into hairstyles so fantastic that it makes Marie Antoinette look like a street rat who never heard of Pin boards.
As for me, I never even properly learned how to paint a room or frost a cake. My daughters fix their own hair in simple braids, buns and ponytails, following the instructions of our oral tradition. My husband has to teach me dance steps he learned in college. I am scrimping and saving in hopes of hiring someone to scrape off our popcorn ceilings. My kids' birthday decorations consist of one handmade sign on plain paper done with crayon - marker if we're feeling inspired. I can only raise the ceiling while dancing, and not well.
Ah, I feel my cave woman ways! As I wait for my kids to get out of school, I spread a newspaper across the steering wheel in car line and look through grocery ads I received in the mail. Other parents are uploading digital coupons on their smarty-pants phones, checking email, reading about Bruce Jenner and researching how to apply crown molding and install outdoor showers for the pool. I still have to log on to a computer to access my email, for goodness' sake, and half the time I don't know where my flip phone is, because I forgot to turn the volume up after church! I don't even know how to show my emotions on social media with pictures of bunnies and monsters.
Whenever I drive I am truly a lone ranger. If I get lost I am forced to roam around looking for a landmark, cursing my fate as I strain to read street signs with my astigmatic eyes. If I get too far off course, I simply pull over at a gas station and cry. Meanwhile, other drivers listen to a tiny know-it-all lady in their phones as she guides them to their destination in soothing tones.
Regardless, I'm afraid to go somewhere exciting, monumental or "hip" for fear of being clotheslined by selfie sticks in the hands of individuals under forty. As for me, I usually forget my camera, an object apart from my phone, so even if I ran into the Queen of England, I would have to ask her to hang around for a bit so I could make a quick sketch to remember the moment.
Honestly, I can't make it in this brave, ultra-connected world. Yes, there is probably an app for that, but I'm still not entirely certain what an app is, though I firmly believe it's something invented by the government to spy on us. At any rate I just can't keep up, so I have started going backwards. For Mother's Day my husband bought me several vinyl records, and I couldn't have been more thrilled as I listened to CCR's "Born on the Bayou". Dang, I wish I were on the Bayou with my old hound dog - uh, make that Yorkie - right now, or at least in the woods or mountains somewhere. I think I'll start stocking up on candles and kerosene lanterns and wait for a horse and buggy to go on sale. Maybe I can convince my city man to change careers and become a cowboy. I'll take my guitar with me to our humble, non-DIYed home with low ceilings and cramped halls, sit beneath the stars in a rocking chair on the broken-down porch, and play Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" all night long.
We'll be simple folk lost in nature, and we'll never watch a single video on YouTube.