I recognize the masthead of a magazine in a tousled pile on the table next to my seat in the waiting room. It’s a publication I subscribed to for the better part of my adult life. I pick it up, surprised at the thinness of it. Once, every month I looked forward to settling in and diving into the articles it presented, but I gave up my subscription when it seemed to be more advertisement than anything else.
That, and it was around the time that surfing and scrolling came into being. Now, we read in smaller bytes—memes and short status updates—because we’re busy and there’s a whole world of information we have to stay on top of.
My wait time is short and I don’t get far in the magazine. I see that it is still mostly advertising, and that makes me a little bit sad, but there’s something comforting about turning the paper pages. I scan features that cater to our attention deficit twenty-first-century minds and see things I didn’t know existed before. Simple things, but things that pique my interest.
I remember evenings when Mom and I drove to the drugstore to pick up a couple of magazines, then whiled away the evening reading them. I think about that one magazine left over from my teenage years that my daughter still has tucked away somewhere, and how my granddaughter will get a kick out of it one day. And the stacks of quilting magazines I just pulled out of a cabinet so it would be light enough for Gerry to move. One day again, I’ll spend a Saturday morning paging through them.
I decide that I’ll leave my phone in my purse from now on when I’m waiting, and pick up a magazine instead. I’ll do it while I can because one day magazines are likely to become obsolete in waiting rooms.
When we get home, I log in to the app on my iPad that allows me to check out digital copies of magazines from my library. I poke around at the offerings, of which there are many. It’s been a long time since I read any here, and when I did I was prone to scroll and swipe my way through them. The the experience was not quite the same as turning the pages in a physical magazine.
And I ponder what we’ve allowed happen to us.