From the time I can remember I always heard the phrase, You’re just a phone call away.
Growing up in a home of artists that saying was chanted over and over in the light of day and even more so in the very dark darkness of night. The phone was the only thing that kept hope alive. Hope for a job. Hope for good news. Hope for life to change for the better.
But very often the phone didn’t ring. Sometimes for years. And then… once in a while. Boom.
God knows that saying has been true in my adult life as well. Many of you followed me during my two years of unemployment. Two years of a phone not ringing and, when it did, not offering hope. And then that all changed when I got hired to write for Two and a Half Men.
I was, indeed, just a phone call away.
And it got me thinking about, well, telephones in general. The truth is there is something about a phone ringing that is mysterious, magical, sensual and terrifying. Who is on the other side? What news are they going to deliver?
We’re getting married… I’m pregnant… We’re getting divorced… They passed away…
If it rings in the morning it might be work. If it rings at night it could be a lover. If it rings at 3 a.m. it could be anything.
You can fall in love with a person over the phone. You can hang up on them with all the rage you can muster. You can cry, laugh, talk dirty, pray, confess all over good ol’ Alexander Bell’s invention.
I remember the first time a boy called me on the phone. I remember the first time my father sang happy birthday to me on the phone. I remember the first time falling asleep talking on the phone.
It’s a lifeline for family, friends, children, strangers.
Lately, my phone has been ringing. Lately, what’s on the other end has been unexpected. Lately, the phone has been life changing. And if I hadn’t answered it… well, the message would never have been received.
And then suddenly that one phone call leads to another phone call and another and now I’m the messenger. I’m the one ringing in someone else’s home. I’m the one with the life changing news.
I guess in an age where most people prefer text and email as a form of connecting, courting, collaborating and comforting, I still find the phone, the ring, the anticipation of the pick-up, the actual voice saying hello… well, awesome.
But nothing compares to the first time my child called me on the phone. Her father and I were newly divorced and it was her day to be with him. I was not used to having to be apart from her and it left me in pieces every time I had to kiss her goodbye. The night would feel long and quiet and I would do everything in my power not to worry about her. And then… the phone rang.
Mama… love you. Night, night.
Her little voice, not even two years old, and there she was. She was okay. I could hear her and she could hear me and the night wasn’t so quiet anymore.
Pick up the phone. Call someone. Surprise them with your voice.
I mean, the truth is… you are just a phone call away.