Monday, October 17, 2011


Here is a letter to the editor that I published in our local newspaper. I have changed the name of the town for the sake of the blog.

Our family has recently moved to Fornow, and the process has had its share of joys and frustrations. We moved from a tiny town in western Oklahoma, so this new town brought wide-eyed wonder from the children.
“They have parks, lots of parks! Our house is only a couple blocks from a real grocery store! There are so many trees and everything is so green!”
Yes, Fornow was quite a contrast to our drought-stricken home in Oklahoma, where “going to get the groceries” meant driving fifteen miles to the nearest grocery store and the park was little more than a backyard swing set and the play equipment from an abandoned schoolyard.
As adults, my husband and I were equally excited to hear that Fornow had been known in the past as “one of the most wired towns in America,” offering internet to the masses. We knew that the streets weren’t actually paved with gold, but we had great hopes that, since it is 2011, at least the internet service would be.
Imagine our shock and consternation as ISP after ISP informed us that they could not service our home.
“I’m sorry, but that’s just outside our service area” – the pain, the frustration!
How is it possible that the Promised Land, where there is even a Wal-mart Supercenter, offers us less access to the world than our tiny farm-town of 400 did?
We have found one or two companies that can serve us, but the price is so high, the service so pitiful, and the contract so long that it feels like indentured servitude and failure rather than simple access to the World Wide Web.
So, at this point, we hold out hope for what has become a mystic legend at our house – someday, Cambridge will come. They offer speeds that are many, many times faster. The prices are almost half as much, and signing a contract would be like a wedding with your true love – or so the legend goes.
We wait out here in “node four”, that mysterious province that doesn’t yet have Cambridge service, but “should be getting it real soon.” They don’t know the day or the hour; actually they don’t even know the week or the month, but they say it is coming.
Do we watch and wait in holy dread? Do we continue to slog through the wilderness of e-mail and research at the library and podcast downloads while eating yet another McDonald’s apple pie? Do we abandon our dream and turn in desperation and shame to the gap-toothed leer of the one service that agrees to give us a miserly access to the world. Only time will tell.
Although the sense of disenchantment is occasionally intense, we remain hopeful, because where would mankind be without hope? We enjoy our new friendships and become increasingly involved in what seems to be a welcoming community.
Our family and friends from our previous existence send us occasional text messages and broken phone calls.
“Where are you? Why haven’t I seen you on Facebook? Why haven’t you written anything new on your blog? Can we see pictures of your new home?”
We reply that although milk and honey are in abundance, the communications system doesn’t seem to stretch back over the Jordan, and the streets of gold were just a fiber-optic pipe dream.