As a teenager, I holed up in my bedroom after dinner, chatting on the phone with my friends, even though I’d seen them all day at school. During college, the frequent calls with my family helped to ease the miles apart. The giddy calls with boyfriends – “you hang up first,” “no you hang up first” – and the angst-filled conversations with would-be-could-be-might-be-boyfriends were something else. Over the years, I’ve treasured the out-of-the-blue calls from far-away friends and favorite cousins I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like. Whenever I place a call that I know will brighten someone else’s day, it gives me a lift, too.
Clearly, the e-mail and the text message have changed the way we communicate and those “the phone’s just been ringing off the hook!” days seem gone forever. I don’t have anything against emailing or texting. Each has merit. The email can relay a large chunk of information quickly, and seamlessly. And nothing beats a text when you’re running late to meet someone and you need to let them know.
But this past week, I got on the phone.
First, I placed a long-distance call to an old college friend. He and I caught up and reminisced, and an hour went by in a flash. Then, a long-overdue call to a friend who lives only a few miles away but whose demanding work life, like mine, has limited her leisure time. Our talk was validating and restorative. And finally, I checked in on a friend I haven’t seen in nearly a year but who’s been on my mind lately. When she shared with me the sad news that her father recently passed away, I tried to offer comfort, and wished I’d called sooner.
Remember that old television commercial for the phone company? The tag line was “reach out and touch someone.” I used to think it was corny. Now, not so much.