My childhood crush and I spent the majority of our time on the phone listening to one another breathe. Every once in a while, we may have told a joke that needed some explaining afterward, or twiddled our thumbs while the other person sang along to some song on the radio.
This was in seventh grade, and although breathing each other into the next morning was sweet, it became stale after the fifth phone call. We both knew we could have had more fun playing outside, but were so infatuated with one another, we couldn’t bear to end our time together. In the cases when we did hang up, chances were, we would call back within the next fifteen minutes to do it all over again. Eventually, I decided to write him letters.
The kind you mail.
In high school, I discovered a new way to communicate with the opposite sex. Chat rooms and instant messaging. When America Online hit, I was able to run away from long bouts of silence and into two or three new conversations with just a simple click of the mouse. I could say “goodnight” and quickly log-off; bypassing the “you hang up” “no, you hang up” back and forth. Most important, I did not have to worry about the anxiety that would always bubble up when on the phone with a crush. The screen served as a barrier, and a smiley face could mask any insecurity.
In college, I bought my first cell phone. I ran my bill up to over $500 dollars and instead of paying it, used my scholarship money to buy a bike. My first bill I couldn’t afford to pay, was trailed by the first guy I fell in some sort of love with. He was an odd mixture of curve cologne and women’s deodorant. He was the talk of the town and I felt lucky to have my name on his tongue. Whenever he called, I would revert back to my seventh grade self and found that I had little to say. I don’t know if this was out of habit, or because I had not yet taken speech 150. It wasn’t until we would hang up, that I regained my senses and realized I had plenty to talk about.
I figured that if I wanted to have a decent conversation with this guy, I’d have to start practicing. I imagined him on the other end of the phone, listening to me talk about my day, him responding inquisitively, and me answering. More times than not, I got carried away and began fantasizing about a conversation that usually ended up with us naked in the woods. At this point, it would have been nice to realize that I was tripping. But like most people who are kind of in love, I continued to practice. Always fumbling over my words, when all I really wanted to say was “I miss you”.
I have since graduated college, am paying more bills than my wallet could swallow and am no longer considering homework as a valid past time. Instead I date. And with every conversation, I am taken back to seventh grade; tripping over words when all we really mean to say is “I like you”. Only this time, text messaging is the culprit.
“LoL-ing” me in the morning is a good way to kick off the day, but nowhere near as a warm as waking up to a smile wrapped around my waist. We’ve gotten caught up in being satisfied with thumbing our way through conversations. I have spent way too much time trying to construct clever one-liners to garner an even more clever response. Too many times have I typed, deleted, and re-typed in hopes that I will be understood. The seventh grade Talia would be content sending smiley faces in hopes that he will interpret them as genuine gestures of affection. The post grad, student loan consolidated Talia, would rather hug and be hugged. Sounds pretty simple, but would mean that one of us would have to get out of bed and into our cars, use gas reserved for work, get out of the car, walk in the cold, get the hug, then dance around the tension of what’s next. Some tongue action? An overnight hump session? Or nothing more than a thought-filled ride home. Alone. Whatever the outcome, aren’t we worth it all? If you think about it, staying in bed with a backlight and winky face is just as, if not more lonesome than the solitary ride home. But with the latter, at least you were able to get your feel on.
I’m thinking about giving my thumbs a rest and do what I’ve been nervous to do all along. Call him. Let my nerves squiggle until they tire and then get on talking about my day. Hoping that before the conversation is over, we’ll end up in the woods somewhere.