If you have an iPhone, you’ll be familiar with the little “weather” icon you can click when you want to know what’s going on outside without having to look out the window. This handy-dandy app allows you to pick several cities to keep track of so that at a glance I can know that it’s 12 degrees at Notre Dame today and Teddy is going to be playing football in the snow for weeks to come.
I currently have my phone set to tell me the weather in Baltimore (where John’s from), Dallas (where my sister lives), Notre Dame, and Knoxville (duh). It also has a useful default of showing the weather wherever you happen to be located at the time, which is even more useful because it also TELLS you where you are at the time. So if you are traveling, you instantly know both the temperature and the name of your physical location.
OR DO YOU?
When we first moved here, my phone helpfully informed me that we were in Ball Camp. Well, Ball Camp Pike is about a mile from here, and the original Ball Camp was established on the banks of Plum Creek, which I can see right this second out my window, so that seemed reasonable, although it’s not what I would have said if someone asked me. (My address is Knoxville, and I and pretty much anyone who lives in Knox County would say we live in Knoxville, but we are outside the city limits here. If you are inside the city limits, the phone says Knoxville no matter what area you are in.)
However, one day I woke to find that the phone had changed its mine. Now I was informed that I was located in Plum Creek. Well, the neighborhood that is on the other side of the aforesaid creek, which will happily disappear from view when the trees leaf out again, is called Plum Creek, so again I could see the logic. And frankly I like the sound of Plum Creek better than the pretentious “Chesterfield,” which is the actual name of this subdivision.
But things were about to get weirder. One day I learned I no longer lived in Plum Creek, but in somewhere called “Rennbore.” I had never heard of Rennbore (I have also never heard of Franklin Hill, which is where Facebook says I live). I did not know of a neighborhood, area, or street by that name.
So, naturally, I googled it, expecting either nothing to show up at all, or else an obscure nearby neighborhood with that strange name.
Surprise! There were PAGES of entries on where to eat in Rennbore, what hotels were near Rennbore, what the weather was like in Rennbore, and where I should shop in Rennbore. I quickly realized, though, that this was a self-replicating feature of the “i-universe.” Google was just taking a location that some other computer told it was called Rennbore and extrapolating the data from there. I started to feel like a character in Paper Man, a movie I watched repeatedly as a child wherein several bright college students create a fake background for Henry Norman, whose credit card they have somehow gotten hold of, only to have (apparently) the computer spontaneously more or less bring him virtually to life and then try to kill them all.
So there was a good deal of speculation here on the nature of Rennbore. What were its boundaries? Was it some strange alternate reality encompassing only our house? Were John and I the Regents of Rennbore? Doesn’t it sound like some sort of alien world?
Then it occurred to me to put “Rennbore” into my map app. And sure enough, a dot appeared: the epicenter of Rennbore, about one mile to the Southeast. Naturally, we drove there, and found ourselves in the middle of an unnamed 1970s-era neighborhood (where we obnoxiously sat for about 30 seconds, enjoying our time in Rennbore to the dismay and embarrassment of the children who were in the car with us).
And in so doing, the mystery of Rennbore was solved, because our journey took us to the corner of Sheretz and RENNBORO roads. That was not a typo, but Rennbore is. I don’t know who decided that our location should be conflated with that of an obscure little neighborhood a mile away whose official name may be Rennboro, as that’s the street that leads into it, but whoever this person was, he SPELLED IT WRONG, and so now Rennbore, Tennessee has taken on a life of its own as you shall see if you try to google or map it.
For us, Rennbore is the new household word, a shorthand way to describe our home. When I wake up one morning and find I’m somewhere new, I’ll be disappointed.
What about you? Where does your phone think YOU live? Tell me in the comments.