I’ve just spent an hour on the phone to an old friend. I haven’t done that in years, those hour long conversations. They used to be a part of my fabric before everybody got so busy. One friend would call when she was walking home, then go into her flat and check for burglars and then we’d spend ages sending empathy down an open line. Another friend where the lines were always open no matter what time, and both of us made use of it enough that it was never a chore. “I’ve locked myself out.” “Get a cab here” There are friends who’d get a call or call me when one of us was showering tears and snot about something. One of those life things that can feel so all consuming, but that can be disempowered by talking in detail. Sometimes an hour and forty minutes or something, and most of it silent as one of us struggled to find the words and the other waited.
The fact it hasn’t happened much lately is testament to how much busier we’ve managed to make ourselves, and proof positive that the old depression is properly burnt out at last. I hadn’t thought of it. But my dear friend has been suffering and reached out. We were connected across the wires for a while. I hope it helped. It was lovely to catch up with them.
My mother existed on the phone. When I lived with her I’d hear her doing her morning rounds, calling one friend after the other, embellishing and sharing and developing stories as she went. She liked to know what I was doing constantly. She was like an information hub. If I went silent for too long she’d worry – to the extent that once when I went to Paris for two days with my girlfriend aged 19 she rang all my old schoolfriends asking if I was with them. I got back to loads of messages from people who I hadn’t spoken to since I was at school, worried that I was dead in a ditch. I reflexively rang her after her funeral to tell her how it went, and didn’t notice the absurdity until I got her voice on the answerphone and fell apart. But I guess she taught me to listen and to share. We used to talk for hours. Even little things like my first parking ticket. “I’m so angry.” “Of course. So you need to be more careful.” Nothing. But something.
Those long open conversations helped me think of talking on the phone as a good way of solving things. I still look for a number to ring if my thing isn’t working. I’d sooner talk to “Wayne” in Alexandria than do it via an online chat system where everything is out of the proper order as he runs his index finger down the same old list and eventually “escalates” me like he should’ve in the first place.
I’ve had a couple of good long phone calls lately and hadn’t noticed I missed them until I had them. Things are getting more bite sized. I prefer the long form. As I suspect you’ve noticed by now…