I guess I’ll start by explaining that I love to talk on the phone. I love it. Although I do prefer actual face-to-face conversation, I have always been a phone person. I’ve been an avid phone user since fourth grade, when I would call my friends’ houses, so long as it was before 8:00. In middle school, phone curfew got upped to 9:00, then 9:30. When I discovered three-way calling, I felt as if a miracle had happened. I was the first person in my group of friends to have a cell phone (which was really my mom’s phone that I hijacked during the day), and I used it on a regular basis to make many a long distance phone call starting toward the end of my freshman year of high school. Though not quite the same, Skype is my friend in that it keeps me talking, actually talking, to people in the US, Argentina, India, wherever. It’s like the phone online, plus video, and I love the phone.
I’ve almost got talking on the phone down to an art. I call, I wait, if you answer, I say hello as cheerfully as possible. I absolutely adore getting phone calls from people with whom I haven’t spoken in a while, so I try to send this kind of affection outward. I’m a quality-time person. It’s what I do.
I’m also a pro at leaving long, slightly absurd, hopefully delightful voice mails. The drill here is I call, I wait, I get to your voice mail, and I proceed to leave you the most ridiculous message I can muster at the time. My voice mails are usually at least a minute and a half long, and I’ve been told by numerous people that they love being on the receiving end of my messages. I have one friend who saves my voice mails and replays them–some of these date back to the summer after tenth grade!
I’ve been doing this phone thing for as long as I’ve been allowed. I love it. I love that I can call someone across town, across the state, across the world, and just sit and talk with them. I love that I can keep in touch with friends that I’ve made all over the world by giving them a quick call. I love that even though I may only get to talk to you one in five times I call, at least two of the other times, I get to leave you a voice mail that could likely brighten your day. I love the sense of connection I get when I talk to my friends in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Long Island, Seattle, even though we’re probably not going to see each other for a long time. One of my strongest and best friendships is almost entirely over the phone–in the five years that we’ve known each other, we’ve been in each others’ physical company for about six weeks. If it weren’t for the phone, I wouldn’t be able to keep her as a friend.
It’s no secret that I love the phone and always have.
But here’s something strange about my relationship to the phone that I’ve never really noticed before. Apart from all the glories of connection that it brings to me, I like listening to the line ring.
It’s weird, I know, but hear me out. I’m tired. It’s 12:27 AM; I’ve been trying to sleep for nearly an hour and a half now. I even took a Melatonin tablet to aid the process at 11. Yet, I am restless. My mind is so focused on all the different ways I’m trying to raise money for the ILP trip that I can’t sleep. I just keep making lists of things I need to do, things I could be doing if I were to get up and keep working, planning out dialogues that I might have on the phone with my relatives in Portugal to inform them of my possible attendance/request aid in the form of shelter for the two weeks that I’ll be there. My mind is going a million miles an hour right now, and no matter how much I want it to stop, I can’t get it to slow down and relax.
So I called a couple of people. The first person I called was about an hour ago. I listened to the ringing until the voice mail clicked on, then rambled for about three minutes about potential Spanish tutoring for money and hung up slightly more relaxed. Flash forward half an hour, I’m still awake, and I remember that I haven’t called my friend Kati back yet from a couple of days ago. She’s on the west coast, so it shouldn’t be a problem to call her at midnight EST.
As the line rang, I began to get this feeling of calm. Suddenly I didn’t want Kati to answer; I just wanted to listen to the line ring for a while. Its repetition was lulling me to sleep. Unfortunately, I arrived at the voice mail, but I was sleepy again for about twenty minutes.
But in the back of my mind it bothered me–why did the ringing line help me to relax? Ringing lines are usually vexing and obnoxious for people, especially people who love to talk on the phone as much as I do. Regardless, the ringing did calm me down, just like the sound of my fingers hitting keys on my computer is calming me down. It’s mildly repetitive, it’s quiet, and I’m controlling it (to an extent). There’s a sense of hope and expectation with the unanswered call, or the typing hand. Will someone answer me, or not? If not, can I still manage to make their day better? Anything good can happen,
I suppose anything bad could happen, too, but I’d rather be an optimist.
So what odd/quirky things soothe you?