I jumped off the grid about three years ago. I unplugged the cable, refused to go

Year of the Dragon

satellite, moved back to the boonies and into a borrowed house back home. No telephone. No Internet. I made a gesture to hook up but didn’t really want to.

I dumped my not-quite smartphone and got a really stupid cellphone instead. Every month, I paid $15 to re-charge my airtime. Too many times, the airtime expired, unused, with Virgin smirking as it raked up huge profits thanks to me. Now who’s stupid’er? Me or that damn cell phone?

I dumped every modern mass communication device except my radio. It was like going back to my early teens some nights. Remember… crawling into bed with a busted old transistor radio rescued from the dump. Somehow, got it working.

Stripped down to its chassis, wires sticking out this way and that. Another long wire running up to the metal frame of a lamp near the window for an antenna. Sound fading in and out, crackling with static as the dial went round this way then the other. WKBW or some other US station. Sam Cooke, Aretha and Little Stevie Wonder. Later, the Hollies, Young Rascals, and Cream.

This time, home again, I pull an old transistor radio out of the basement. It doesn’t work.  I take it apart, fiddle with this and that, get it to squawk at me until I run its dorky little antenna wire up to a lamp near the window. After all this, it works. I lay back in bed with a book, with the signal fading in and out, tuned in to CBC with Randy Bachman often playing the songlist of my teens. After Randy, Saturday Night Blues…

I blame the Year of the Dragon. See, my first love – radio – came crackling into my life during another Dragon Year back then. It was also the year that I left home, for what turned out to be most of the rest of my life. This time, this year, I find myself with yet another old radio, laying in bed while the radio crackles in and out. Once more, I find myself heading out for who knows where and for who knows how long.