Back in the day when I lived in LA, I was incredibly low-tech. I’d listen to mix tapes instead of  mp3s. I’d read books that required actual page turning. And my cellphone was much the way I expect to be 50 years from now–crotchety and decrepit.

So, when I’d see other people whip out their Smartphones to email or text or to find the nearest Starbucks because heaven forfend they drive four blocks in one direction when they could achieve caffeinated nirvana by only driving just two blocks in the other, I would roll my eyes.

Ok, Ok, I’ll admit it: I was secretly jealous. I envied Los Angelinos their gadgets, and I wanted my finger on the pulse of all that is hip, too. I thought grooving to an iPod would be sublime.  I thought downloading books onto a Kindle would be rad.  And above all,  I yearned for a Smartphone: I fantasized about being able to check email while sitting at Starbucks (Grande Vanilla latte and delusions of Grandeur for Sarah!) I wanted to download Angry Birds, and create personalized ringtones that would make me look edgy and cool (I was thinking a little Gangsta Rap would be nice.)

My Smartphone would be my magic portal, freeing this tired mama from her daze of dirty laundry, and sub-par cooking; a safe haven from power struggles with the kids–tantrums (theirs), meltdowns (mine), and way too much time spent in front of the TV (ours). Come what may – this phone would keep me sane, connected 24/7 to my real life.

My dream phone would make me feel young and au currant because in reality, my screen was scratched, paint chipped, powering down on a whim like a narcoleptic.

(And believe you me, my phone was even worse.)

So when my family moved to Israel last year, I had one condition: I wanted a smartphone. That way, I could be on Google Chat or Facebook all the time – constantly in touch with friends and family back home. I wanted quick and dirty email access so I could send pictures back home to Beeka and Bakah (my dad and his wife…) I wanted to download a kindle app so I could read books in English without having to expend energy —gasp— flipping pages. And let’s be real: I wanted to look all high-tech and whatnot, whipping out my sexy Smartphone and strutting around in high heel boots, way more “LA Woman” than I ever was back in LA.

Thus began my codependent relationship with Sammy the Smartphone. It was love at first sight: Within seconds of charging the battery and turning him on, I had changed his settings to English, and downloaded Tupac Shakur’s California Love for my ringtone. Whither I goest, he went – through the fields, to the coffee place, and beyond…Chatting, texting, always connected to my life back home.

And our relationship wasn’t all about looks and cool apps or the fact that he vibrated – although believe you me, Sammy had that going on. Because no matter how homesick in the Homeland I was, I had Sammy – and because I had my Sammy, I had Aimee, and Crystal, and Jeff, and Corey, and David, and Alex, and Elana, and Michelle, and Chris, and Beeka and Bakah, and so many others that live on the other side of the world, with me every second.

Until the day Sammy drowned. In the toilet. Because there is no app to get rid of my inherent clumsiness and pathological case of mama brain.

I tried everything to bring Sammy back to life. I opened him up, and took out his battery, simcard, and SD card. (He felt so light lying there in the palm of my hand, just an empty shell.) Then, I placed him lovingly in a bag full of rice because I had read somewhere that this can sometimes save a drowned cellphone. It didn’t. And I shook my fists and screamed to the heavens…“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” (Because the first stage of grief is denial.)

My husband rolled his eyes. “Don’t be such a baby. It’s just a cellphone.”

And on to the second stage of grief: Anger.

I hurled Sammy’s corpse at my husband. I shouted. I cursed. And I cried hysterically, while my husband looked around for the nearest escape route. (Seriously. In that moment, I done Mel Gibson proud.)

And while I know in hindsight that I may have (just a little bit) overreacted, the thing is, it wasn’t “just a cellphone.” Sammy was my lifeline–my fast-track to LA from like, a million light years away. And as I try to figure out my place here in Israel –in a home where my daughter straight up refuses to speak English (I swear, it’s like she does this on purpose to upset me), in conversations where I wonder W.T.F. is happening, like all the time when my husband is talking to his mom, or the preschool teacher, or the doctor about something related to our kids in Hebrew, where I am perpetually lost in a heavy fog as I try to figure out a strange word in the middle of a joke, while everyone else is laughing at the punchline.

(At least Sammy had a Hebrew/English translation app. May he be of blessed memory.)


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