Today we recycled the new telephone book. We didn’t even open it. This version was a beleaguered stepchild of the gargantuan books of my childhood: small in both weight and dimension, containing both white and yellow pages.
An everyday facet of my childhood and college years sunk down into our recycle bin, too. I remember reading the telephone book back then, looking up last names that began with Q or finding other people with my same name and middle initial, getting my index and thumb fingers smudged with black ink. Back then white and yellow pages were separated. Back then we let our fingers do the walking, as the slogan went.
Today I google the name of someone I want to find, and in that googling, I find the concentration of so many people into one book has become lost to the expansiveness of the internet. The phone book provided me with a sense of the density of a place. I always knew how populated an area was by the size of the telephone book. The internet provides no such revelation, at least for me. The population of area code 312 – my area code in college – means nothing to me as a number. But as a four-inch thick, heavy (four pounds, five pounds, at least heavy enough to function as a door stop after wrapped in duck tape) set of white and yellow pages, well, area code 312 was dense and condensed.
What I find odd is the sensation of saying goodbye to an everyday practice that was so much a part of my younger days. I am not sad nor nostalgic. The sense of oddness arises from acknowledging the impermanence of all things.
Ubiquity becomes uniquity. I become dust. Everything changes.