On Vacation, 2009

"HARWICH - Bent over a laptop in the drivers’ seat of her car, Marcia King hunted for a signal. She wanted to connect with the outside world. Just for a few minutes. And then she could go back to her vacation.

"King’s summer home in Harwich Port, like many old Cape Cod houses, doesn’t have an Internet connection. But the Brooks Free Library offers free wireless Internet signal, pulsing out the door even when the doors are closed. King drives to the library parking lot nearly every day, joining other vacationers looking for a quick jolt of home, via the free Internet connection.

“You come here at 10 p.m. at night, and there’s a couple people sitting in the parking lot,’’ said King, who travels from Maine to live on the Cape for two months each summer." (Boston Globe)

I remember a pre-internet vacation one summer with my family on Nantucket, when all hell was breaking loose back at the office. No cellphones, no phone in the rented cottage, a one-mile bike ride into town to a public phone. There was no expectation of constant updates and input, and I had several built-in excuses why I "couldn't get back to you."

I did end up having a couple of long business calls on the public phone at the wharf while watching ferries of tourists come and go, and it was difficult to delete the business file from my mind completely, but it's certainly different - and, I think, worse - today.