I spent so much time as a teenager on the phone that I think it scarred me as an adult. Not your average, teeny-bopper phone talker, I was a bona fide, professional, across town Bellsouth communicator. I loved talking on the phone! Don’t believe me? Just ask my little sister who had the privilege of sharing a room with me. My heart goes out to her now as I think of her enduring my late-night gabfest to the backdrop of New Edition, Guy, Kwame or Anita Baker blasting from my boombox in the background. I could “chop it up”, “chew the fat”, “chit-chat” and “rap” with the best of them on the phone, sometimes until the wee hours of the night/morning. I’d mastered the “hide under the cover and pretend you’re asleep but still talking” technique and worked it until I actually did fall asleep, or until I felt my Mama jerk the 50 ft phone cord that originated from her room, or even worse, heard her stern voice intercept my conversation of sweet nothings with the intense words, “Michelle (my middle), hang up that phone NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Fast-forward a few decades and I’d grown to become as anti-phone as could be. I simply didn’t like talking on the phone. I would say this to people, many of whom did not believe, some of which thought I was treating them differently or indifferently than others when really my anti-phoneness was an equal opportunity avoider. I just didn’t like it anymore. Of course, during the times I was dating I would relish in the sound of the heightened baritone or bass on the other end of the receiver from whichever gentleman captured my attention, but soon that feeling would fade. Yes, I partook in the occasional fiber-optic conversing with friends and family, but nothing to the extent as before. The advent of texting and other forms of social communication further fed my increasing appetite for alternative forms of talk other than talking. In hindsight, I partly blame my career as a catalyst for my breakup with my boo, the telephone. So much of what I do and have always done has involved talking to human beings whether as a television anchor and report, or in marketing, public relations or sales, working in ministry full-time and now in a sweet mix of social justice and human resources. It gets overwhelming sometimes, especially as an introvert. My life had begun to be dictated by talk to and listening to others. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. So phone talking took a back seat and had settled in there just fine.
This morning I had a great conversation with a dear friend since college. Talking of nothing major, just the hearty laughter, catching up and random bursts of “girl, are you serious?” reminded me of the good old days when I liked the phone a lot more. I’d missed the feeling of hurting cheeks from chuckling, and wiping little droplets of tears from my eyes at the same time.
So today, I’m reigniting my relationship with the telephone, opting to be more personable, taking more time to talk to real, live human beings on the other end. It will be a challenge. I recognize that from the jump. But I’m up to the challenge if it means growing closer to those who matter.