Oh, Linda.

Josie Davis

Hiking through the rainforest can be a magical thing. The lush greenery all around, the far off sounds of birds you’ve only ever seen in a zoo chatting with one another, the light rain on your face, and the deep smell of mossy rocks. What’s not so magical is getting stuck in a downpour under a lean-to with a woman named Linda who insists on calling everyone she’s ever met and loudly talking to them about how her arthritis is putting a bit of a damper on her dating life.

I don’t mind rain. For a few minutes me and Frank stood together under the lean-to watching the rain fall with only the steady beat of drops falling around us. I love the sound of rain. Probably because I’m a fairly privileged white girl who’s only really bad experiences with rain were when a it put a bit of a damper on our family’s day at Epcot and I had to buy children’s large sweatpants because my jeans got soaked through (Seriously though, why does it always rain on Epcot day?). I mostly find rain storms charming and even calming, and was perfectly happy to stand with my husbands arms wrapped around me, watching the rain until it slowed. And then, Linda came.

I was standing on the edge of the lean-to looking down the hill when a middle aged woman came towards me waving frantically and yelling “I found you!”. I instantly attempted to hide behind Frank, which doesn’t work so well since I am a nearly 6 foot tall tree of a gal. The woman quickly realized that me and my husband were not the date that she had lost on the mountain, but decided it was best to hang out with us under the shelter anyway. I did what I always do in awkward social situations, and promptly pretended I’m deaf and mute and have no way of communicating with other humans, so I might as well just face the opposite direction and watch the rain some more and hope you don’t insist on talking to me.

Linda was not hindered by us not buddying up to her though. Even though we were thousands of feet up the side of a mountain she somehow had the teeny tiniest bit of reception on her cell phone which made it possible for her to voice to text, leave rambling voicemails, and call everyone she’s ever met. We heard all about her date that presumably had abandoned her and left her for dead in a Puerto Rican rainforest. We head about how she was aggressively trying to get a coworker to spend more time with her, despite this woman spurring her advances (her words, by the way), and we heard her lament about how tough dating is when you have arthritis in your hands…

It was awkward to say the least. After five minutes that felt more like an hour we decided to venture into the pouring rain and hike as swiftly as we could down the mountain in fear that Linda might catch up to us and we would be forced to listen to make more phone calls and dictate text messages. I couldn’t help but think how incredible it is that you would hike through the rainforest and still be unable to put your phone down and enjoy what’s around you. But if I’m totally honest with myself, I do that too. Sure, I don’t make phone calls unless absolutely necessary (why can’t doctors just text you anyway), and I certainly am not going to voice to text in public when my hands are perfectly free (I mean, common guys, why even bother texting at that point), but I’m sure way more often than I realize I’m standing somewhere amazing and beautiful and am too busy scrolling through instagram to even notice.

I am not someone who thinks technology is evil, quite the opposite in fact. I have no desire to get rid of my iPhone or live in some remote cabin without internet. I think all of that stuff is awesome actually. I believe instagram has truly pushed me creatively. I love that I can check out an ebook or audiobook from my library and read it right on my phone. Heck, without the internet and AIM I wouldn’t have had half my boyfriends. The question is, am I able to disconnect when real life calls? Am I able to put down my phone and enjoy the sound of rain in the actually rainforest when it’s right there in front of me? I really hope so, but maybe Linda was there to remind me to pay attention and not miss out on what’s happening. So, thanks Linda, I really will try to be more present this year, and also will try my best to avoid arthritis by whatever means necessary.