One of my Christmas gifts to Lynne was the promise of a solid day in each month of 2016 to spend together doing whatever she wants — and for me to stay offline: My email inbox goes unchecked, word games go unplayed, and my friends’ Facebook posts get no likes from me on those days. Lynne has my full attention, or as much of it as she can stand. She greeted the gift with enthusiasm, my phone use having been a sore point lately.
We started our January offline day with a walk to the Whitney Museum, a few blocks from our home, to see a Frank Stella retrospective. I’ve never cared much for Stella’s work, but the show made me appreciate his discipline and how his art has evolved. I even enjoyed looking at some of it.
From the museum, we walked to a popular English tea parlor for afternoon tea. We had a backup plan in case we encountered a crowd waiting outside in the cold for tables, but we were seated immediately.
We finished our tea in time to walk to a movie theater in Chelsea to see The Big Short, an excellent film about the people who profited wildly when the housing market bubble broke. Walking back downtown afterward, we talked about the financial industry greed and callousness and cynicism that the movie portrayed, and the troubles that the industry has visited on so many people. The weather was perfect for a long stroll, so we continued past our street, exploring blocks we haven’t walked on for a while, glad to find a few that still look like the Greenwich Village we love, that haven’t yet become Rodeo Drive East. Still full from our tea sandwiches, scones, and cakes, we limited dinner to a slice of pizza that we ate while sitting on a park bench.
Much as I appreciate my phone and enjoy those word games, staying offline for a day was anything but a hardship. These days are as much a gift to myself as they are to Lynne, of course; they let me share her enjoyment of something outside our everyday routine. I look forward to our February offline day, whatever it brings.
As I write this, Lynne is sitting across the room from me, staring and poking at her phone.