Lattice Issue 5: My Lover’s Phone

Issues one to four of Lattice have all progressed two stories forward: Skypunch and The Moonbow Easy. This month, I’m taking a break from both stories to present something entirely different: a partially-true short story about love and technology. I say partially true because I’m drawing largely from personal experience. My Lover’s Phone, which comprises this entire issue, is something that I did not see coming. You hear writer’s talking about a subject demanding to be written, but I never really believed them. You’re in control, right? You decide what happens. And that’s true, but you’re not always in control of what emerges from your imagination (at least, not wholly consciously), and you’re not always in control of what inspires you.

I began writing technology-driven articles last month. I replaced my wrestling column with two longform arguments about placative design and backups. I began writing a third, about Windows Phone, but found myself incapable of writing about it without talking about my partner, who has largely informed my decisions related to technology in the last few years. For years, we would argue about things like Apple products and how technology companies lull people into states of complacency and connectivity in order to take information from them they’d never otherwise indulge. In fact, I found it impossible to talk about technology without talking about relationships with other people. Any argument I wanted to make about any product would inevitably lead to an anecdote about a girlfriend or a friend or someone in my past. So, knowing I had an issue to write, I decided to go with it. I felt there was enough material to mine from my own emotions on the subject that I could fill an entire issue.

Now, I don’t know what to really call this. It’s a short story in four parts, but it’s neither entirely fictional or totally truthful. I’ve stretched facts, distorted time, and moved aspects of some relationships to others in order to make a better narrative. What’s left is something totally unique to anything I’ve ever written before. I’ve taken the truth as raw materials and made a product that’s definitely no longer true, but still absolutely raw and bloody, all because every single relationship in my life has come with a different phone. It’s strange to think about, and probably rote. I mean, relationships come with all kinds of things. Most relationships come with a couch of some kind, but I’ve never placed much currency in that. Phones stick with me, though, since these purchases are often so charged with either brand awareness and loyalty or utter indifference and outright scorn. I’ve known people who have purchased phones for the sole purpose of spiting another person. These things have a hold on us.

And as much as these things are built to connect people, I’m not really sure if they help.

This is unlike anything I’ve written before in structure, too. This is a very loose narrative, with no set idea of time or even characters. It’s not clear when one relationship ends and another begins, or how many there are, or if the narrator is even the same person. Some parts are purposefully obtuse in order for the reader to glean something personal that I can’t figure out in advance. I wrote this story to be a bit like a fun house mirror, but one that probably makes you sad.

October 25, 2013