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Alexander Bell saves my day

July 23, 2009

I called a friend of mine two nights ago, someone who I email often but because of the vast difference in time zones I never call. The best time to call her is around bed time here as it would be morning for her, but usually after I finally wrangle Queenie into bed I’m either exhausted or have to finish some work I didn’t get done during the day. But Tuesday night I not only pushed aside work….to be left for today (eek!) but took the chance that Queenie was too tired herself to cry from her crib. Honestly, that part I didn’t think about until after the conversation again. I had closed the kitchen door and was sitting out in the gallery (it’s like a small balcony where the washing machine is. It has separated aluminum, well, I can only say siding to give you an idea. It’s so air comes in, but keep peepers out. Otherwise all of us apartment dwellers would be able to see into each others kitchens. That wouldn’t be cool.)

So I’m sitting on the stoop of the gallery when I hear her voice. Yea! My friend answered because now that she has I am ready to talk. I ask her many questions about herself as she is about to have her first baby and things aren’t going so well with the dad, but with every question that she asks me I prattle to the point of embarrassment when I look back. I have noticed in past conversations with my long time BFF (who only has a 6 hour difference, so it’s much easier to bother her more often) and with my mother that once I get a phone in my hand I tend to talk quite a bit. Except with my mother in law. I can’t ever seem to find anything to talk about with her.


At some point in the conversation she suddenly asked me, “So, are you lonely?”

Her voice was sturdy, though a bit curious. But don’t go imagining her voice softening into pity as she realizes that I must be lonely due to all the talking coming from her friend who used to know decent phone etiquette and never spoke so much until she had at least a couple glasses of pinot noir. (Ah,…..that’s what was missing from the conversation. As much as I love Spanish wine, which if you haven’t tried, you should. Start with a Rioja if you like red, or a Ribeira if you like white, I still love my pinot noir. Don’t tell the principe!)

The question struck me hard. Not even the BFF with a six hours difference has ever asked me that. Which made me realize how we Americans just don’t like hard questions: asking or answering. We don’t like to know certain things because they make us uncomfortable. But not T. She asks the questions. And the pure honest curiosity in her voice makes you want to reach deep into your soul and give her a more than adequate answer. How did I respond to such purity?

Pause. “Yes. I’m lonely.”

What else could I say but the truth? But the best part is that T isn’t someone who will let you then wallow in pity after saying something like that as most people would (this being the reaction, I am convinced, of Americans being uncomfortable with emotions other than happiness, indifference and slight anger). No, no. T’s next statement was, “What? You’re supposed to be living out the European glamorous dream!” And then came her bubbly giggle (Geez, I’m starting to sound like I’m in love with her aren’t I? I just want to be her, I think).

We talked more about many things. She asked me what in the world she is supposed to do with a newborn child, with that same giggle and recalled the time in which she put a diaper on our ex-boss’s twin backwards. How she ended up doing that, I’m still not sure.

The greatest thing is that after the telephone conversation that I rarely make out of laziness for the time of day, I felt less lonely. And isn’t that what telephones are for, really? Computers are great and all. God bless the man who thought of emails and blogs and posting videos. But Alexander Graham Bell still gets placed at the top of my list. Hearing people’s voices takes away the loneliness in a way that email can’t.

Now, shall we talk about our inability as American’s to be comfortable with emotion? ….I can already see the tears and hear the deep sighs, so maybe later…..

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