Middle of the Night Phone Calls

The phone woke me up from a dead sleep.

Phones ringing in the middle of the night tend not to be a good thing, but I answered this one quickly hoping that my mother, who also slept with a Slimline phone next to her on a bedside table, hadn’t heard it.

It’s hard to imagine this whole scenario in a modern day world.  First, that we all had our own corded phones in our bedroom was a recent gift; before, there were two phones total in the house.  One in the kitchen, and one in my mother’s bedroom.  There were no cordless phones, anywhere, that you could simply take away from the phone base.  And let’s not even talk about having your own phone number so that you had the luxury of the entire house NOT knowing your business.  I was pretty psyched to no longer have to take the phone off of the wall in the kitchen and drag the superlong cord into the half bath and close the door.

These were the days before cordless phones.  Before caller ID.  Before cell phones meant you, as a teen, could privately receive a phone call on vibrate on your pillow at 3 am so your mother wouldn’t know.  No.

So I dove for the phone, quickly, hoping my mother hadn’t heard it and banking that she hasn’t because she slept pretty soundly.  I didn’t hear the shift in bed in the room next to mine that would signal she had, so I whispered, cautiously, “Hello?”

“It’s so good to hear your voice,” Ray answered, loudly.

He was at a pay phone on the road back to Kuwait.   It was the middle of the day where he was, and he was calling because he had told me in his last letter that he wanted to really talk to me, in real time, instead of waiting weeks for my letter to come back.  Again, these were the days before email.  Now, you can email a guy in the Army out in the field and he’ll probably answer you when he’s off duty in a few hours.  You can Skype.  You can have real time conversations, thanks to technology.  But in those days, I wrote Ray and sent the words off into the universe, and waited a week for him to receive them, and at least a week more for his response to them.

I was enjoying corresponding with Ray, mostly because I felt like I wasn’t as invested as he was, for the first time ever.  His voice was thick with emotion during that phone call, telling me how he was going back to Germany, but he was going to get a leave soon afterwards, and how he would like to see me when he came home.  I was able to keep my cool, though I’ll admit it gave me a tingle to think that he was wanting to see me.  I could hear Mariah Carey’s “Someday” in the back of my head, as I had always thought of Ray when that song came on the radio (“Someday the one you gave away will be the only one you’re wishing for…”).  There was a great satisfaction on my part that he was feeling as if he’d made a mistake four years ago when he broke things off with me.

Plus, it was hard not to like hearing the sweet things he was telling me.  I’d been on exactly one date since Zachary was born, a disastrous event with a guy I’d met in my Speech class at school.  We went to a movie that ended up having some sort of single parent angle (it might have been “Look Who’s Talking Too”) and then poor Gary tried to make conversation about my situation.  It took about twenty minutes of that before he decided it was time to wrap things up; I never heard from him again.  None of my male friends were interested in dating, and while I couldn’t blame them for not wanting a stab at the Insta Family, it still made my twenty year old self wonder if I was ever going to enjoy male companionship again.  So hearing Ray talk about how  much he missed me and couldn’t wait to see me again at three in the morning from thousands of miles away?  I wasn’t disliking it, even with our history.


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