Monday, August 24, 2015

disconnect

A couple of months ago I bought a 60's era rotary phone off eBay. I was so delighted when it arrived and actually worked. I know people who get nostalgic over the hideous sound one got when trying to connect, via dial-up, to the internet like some kind of vocal robot with hiccups being sucked into a garbage disposal unit. For me, it was the sound of the dial tone and the ring.

I called a few old friends, people that I haven't spoken to since there was no internet and made my ear and throat sore. The connections were clear, almost intimate. If you stopped talking, you could actually hear the other person breathing. It's astonishing how much quality we have sacrificed. Still, the novelty wore off because, frankly, I just didn't have that much to say. When you talk with old friends about old times there is no escaping tales of sorrow and loss.

The novelty wore off and I unplugged it and it gathered dust on the shelf. I tried again when I reorganized my way out of the office and to my sadness found that my landline provider had done something to the service and I was no longer able to dial out. I could receive calls, but how frickin' sad was that?

Fast forward a few months to my days with Charlie in a place where my cell phone just will not work. Unacceptable. They had a land line and I brought the old black beast over and plugged it in. The first time it rang Charlie was astonished. It was Unka calling and it was funny watching him trying to figure out that the voice only came from one end of this clumsy device and he was not quite ready to say anything to a heavy lump of black plastic, but, after that first call, every time it would ring he would point at it and say "Mama." It was clear who he wanted to hear from. I imagined a day when he would be holding the phone to his ear, not speaking, just listening to the sound of someone he loved breathing. Idle fantasy.

Before too long I found myself staring at the thing and feeling generally down. It took a while before I realized that I was waiting for a call that would never come. Jimmy and I didn't carry on much over the phone back in the beginning. There were two or three days, after I left my boyfriend and before Jim picked me up for the last time from my mother's house when we spent hours on the phone. I don't remember anything he said because I was just listening to the sound of his voice. Mostly, it was just a way to find out when and where we could be together, face to face. Time on the phone, time apart, was time wasted.

The phone is too much temptation for a little one, cords, wires and no high place to put it where it can't be pulled down dangerously. I'll bring it home this week and probably put it back on eBay for someone else's memory lane stroll.

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