Parenting Blog

I Just Called, To Say

One of my fondest memories of the past decade is being on the telephone with the woman who would eventually become The Mrs.

In these memories we’re in our pre-kid/pre-marriage years, still in the figuring-it-out stage of a relationship. We knew it’d be us forever, but the course hadn’t totally been mapped out yet. We’d talk on the phone because I was away on a business trip or working late, still stuck on that odd shift, the one that caused me to see her 4 hours less every day than I should, but the one that paid a sweet 10% differential which enabled us, along with hefty doses of OT, to pay off all the credit card debt I amassed between the ages of 19 and 22.  Trade-offs, ya know?

It’s not necessarily the talking I remember about those phone calls, it’s the silence – the not-exactly-empty air on both lines that resonates, like the low hum of the ballpark crowd during a radio broadcast of a baseball game. We’d each hear voices from that terrible sitcom, the distant rumble of a train chugging past some generic mid-western city, the toilet flushing, the neighbor’s dog who never seems to be allowed inside, the group of dudes getting back to their hotel room, loud and tipsy, and not the least bit concerned about others staying in the same hotel.

Talking, or Being, on the phone is the most intimate way to communicate. Most of your available senses are eliminated, so a cool tussle of your hair or a puff of your t-shirt to correct the way it lays across your chest matters not. That you haven’t yet showered, and the unfriendly result of that procrastination: also non factors. What’s left is the sound of your lover’s too-tired voice, your best friend’s familiar yawn piercing through the white noise, through the impossible silence. Those moments deliver immeasurable comfort.  We’d remain on the line until one of us fell asleep.

Or we’d share in the roar of the same road but from separate cars.   Sometimes we’d actually talk, about stuff so big picture and far away that we’d let ourselves get giddy about the possibilities; ‘Round the world vacations, that restaurant idea I still think is brilliant, raising an amazing kid, anything that our mind could conjure would be tossed out there and, no matter the scope, it always sounded sorta plausible when discussed over the phone.

Calls now are usually shorter and more matter-of-fact; “you on your way home?”, “what’s for dinner?”, “how are the girls?” – more questions requiring quick answers than possibilities requiring a vivid imagination, the love of another human being and the static emptiness of a cellular phone line.

It kinda makes me wish that I could go away somewhere, if only to be able to ring up the Mrs. and dream big again, to share in that pleasurable silence with her once more.

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