For hours and hours it bore the brunt of our jabbering. If only phones could talk . . .
If there was a cord – and back then there generally was one – I would stretch it across the dining room, twist it around the backs of chairs, and wind it around my finger until it curled upon itself. An irreparably damaged, serpentine tether.
And the sweat! The earpiece slip sliding over my outer ear and falling to the floor if I didn’t wipe it off on occasion. Once, I wandered a bit too far and it suddenly wasn’t there anymore, yanked away despite the vise-grip shrugging of my shoulder and the tilting of my head and the craning of my neck. Muscles and actions that seldom failed me.
Ma Bell and I, we were tight. She carried the weathered and weary sighs, the muffled giggles and outright, outlandish guffaws, and the sweetest, cacophonous chasms of silence across the miles, over rivers and hills and fields of flowers and busy metropolises, and never let on that the whole thing was miraculous. The way science and technology can be when we stop to think about it and not get caught up thinking of it as nothing but the way it has always been.
It snowed yesterday. Enough to make the relatively short trip home a sudden and unwelcomed ordeal of no small magnitude. So I instead drove to my mom and dad’s house and spent the night there. On the couch, sort of like the good old days. And before I went to sleep, I called my wife. The one who back in the day had her place not only in my heart but on the other end of the line. I had gone home for a semester, and home stood entirely too far away.
We’d talk about important stuff. And it all seemed important. And then we’d talk about the little things. And then we’d talk about nothing at all. Eventually, we’d just listen. Sentences would end, or even just trail off, lose their steam. There were fewer questions then. And answers had no particular finality.
No reason to hurry. To wrap up the conversation so we could go back to whatever. Whatever didn’t really matter or seem all that important. Instead, we lingered.
And the minutes glided by . . .