I'm slumped on the floor, phone pressed to my ear. Oh yeah, and I'm in the closet.
It feels more secure in here and the dark doesn't bother me. I always come in here to talk on the phone with you in the hours of night where I'm not quite sure whether to call it very late or very early.
Right now there's nothing in my ear but some steady breathing. A lull in the conversation. The crackle of the cell phone static accompanies it, sounding almost like the distant fall of rain.
Later, it'll occur to me that this is a bit weird. Calling someone to not talk. But I've always liked that we could do that. I like being with someone and just being able to sit. I like that we don't have to talk.
But I wonder if the silence means the same thing to you as it does to me? Has yours ever been frantic or nervous, trying to pick up the conversation again? Has it ever felt awkward for you? Expectant? Weighted with the "wait" from what you wanted to hear?
And now I remember the tin can phones that kids have. Our voices transmitted along a string to come out on the tin can on the other side. There aren't physical lines connecting us as we talk on the phone, but what if there were?
What if we could physically see the line of conversation that connected us? If our thoughts, our words, our feelings merged into one line. If from the sky, we could somehow see the golden threads that wound around houses, under beds, out the windows, that looped across roads, through the sky....
Starting from you. Finding me.
On the one hand, it sounds nice. On the other, it sounds like a cell phone commercial.
Your voice jolts me out of that image.
To be honest, I'm a little drowsy, but too stubborn to admit it. The phone's hot and my right ear is tired, so I switch to the other one. As I do, I press a button and check the display. One hour. Two hours. Three hours. Each time we talk, I want it to be longer than the last time we talked. Some kind of contest, but I don't know what the prize is and I don't know what it proves. I quickly put the phone to my left ear, hoping I haven't missed a word. Silly, I know.
"Won't you be tired tomorrow?"
Are your words a polite way of saying that you don't want to talk anymore? Is this a cue I'm supposed to take, telling you a long overdue good night? Or do I take your words at face value? I still don't know. Or rather, I try not to hope.
Or maybe your words are a way of trying to figure out something that I want to know as well.
Again, I try not to hope.
"No, I'm okay," I finally say.
"Are you in your closet again?" There's a quirk of amusement. I can hear your smile in your voice.
"Of course. Why?"
"Nothing...I just like picturing it while we're talking." There's a curious pause. "Has your family ever found you in there?"
One time my older brother opened the closet door on me while I was on the phone with you. I had squinched up eyes after being so suddenly exposed to light. I tell you about the dumbfounded expression on my brother's face.
Sometimes it's like this. Sometimes I talk about the impossibilities of time travel and why it's not ethically responsible to do it either. Sometimes you talk about how people really don't think about the ability to fly. It's not just about flying, you say. You have to have thick skin to accessorize the speedy flight since you're bound to hit a lot of particles, bugs, in the air. Plus you need superhuman lungs to combat the thinner/colder air that comes with height.
You've obviously put some thought into it.
Sometimes it's more serious. It's about figuring out the convoluted tangles of our pasts. Sometimes it's trying to ungnarl the present that's too close for us to understand yet...like a picture that's planted right in front of our face. Sometimes it's about the future, as ill-prepared and naive we are to really know it.
And sometimes, like I said, there aren't words at all.
Listening has never been difficult for me. People always tell me what a good listener I am or how it's such a gift. That never made sense to me.
Listening has always seemed more selfish to me. It's not hard to listen. It's harder to share. Harder to open your heart. Harder to talk. Isn't it?
But with you, I always want to talk. I want to tell you things. Stupid little things. Big ideas that may be trite or cliche or perspicacious. Ideas that are mine. And it's funny because as I do this, I feel like this is selfish too. Because my words are starting to take up all of our time. I swear I'm not like this usually. Just around you. And I do want to hear you. I want to hear your words. Your stupid little things. Your ideas. Your voice.
I just want more time. And maybe that's why, whenever we have to hang up, I always check the time. I want more time. More and more each time.
If I were being honest with myself though, I would just say that I want more of who you are.
There's another pause at the other end, but this one is heavy. This is what they call a pregnant pause. An 8-month-pregnant-woman-toddling-down-the-street-stopping-to-take-a-breather-on-a-hot-summer-day pause. I'm not drowsy anymore, but suddenly, inexplicably, wide awakeThe silence stretches out between us and for the first time in this conversation I'm aware of how far apart we really are.
It's a very weighted never mind. The kind that says "oh hey I was going to tell you something important but changed my mind" but why? What was it and why did you change your mind? Speculations run abound, but I decide to let it slide.
But really, I wonder.