Pick Up The Telephone
I think mostly what I miss is having someone to call at one o’clock in the morning when the room is warm and the edges are slightly purple, when my full bed is loose with longing. I miss knowing that after a night of drinking or smoking or drifting pitless through keystone-light-parties, there was someone waiting for me, someone who would wait up for me, would let conversations wind into breath until a thin thread of exhale connected our mouths sometimes dorm-rooms sometimes continents apart.
And not always laced with romantics. A best friend or a lost someone, someone I met at summer school who I still think understands me better than anyone else I’ve ever met, a girl I met in Madrid with big hazel eyes. Because it’s not the conversation that matters. It’s the picking up. The answer. Knowing that someone will offer me the gift of twenty minutes to fill with ramblings or nothing, will embrace me with a voice half drowsy, half crinkled by electric wires, will offer advice or a laugh or a reminder of my own vibrancy, will answer because they’re the kind of person who leaves the phone on, who understands that when someone calls you at two in the morning it’s important and if not to them, at least to the person hanging anchorless at the end of the stretching abyss.
Because that’s sometimes what it feels like to sit in a dark room staring at the ceiling, knowing that all you want to do is to press someone else’s hello to the hollow parts of your collarbone, to have someone ask youhow you are, because you’re twisted or effervescent or lonely or bursting at the seams with gossip or just because you need to listen to someone else talk for a while.
I imagine words like glowing beetles scurrying across power lines, imagine thousands of conversations whizzing past each other, spilling themselves into the ears of the waiting. And I imagine beetlewords scrambling and ending up in the wrong ears imagine conversations between lovers being intercepted by pizza delivery men speaking to phone technicians to a 7-year-old who just learned to answer the phone to a group of young girls calling a sex service as a joke to calling a suicide hotline a solitary boy searching for someone to tell him that everything is going to be okay. I imagine words piling up and buzzing against the feet of clouds and on the loneliest nights I imagine stacks of words pressing themselves against streets and buildings until they pop and careen into the open windows of homes pulsed electric by night-lights and flashlights in the mouths of past-curfew readers and I imagine hundreds of open palms grabbing for these words collecting these words stuffing them into pockets and bedside tables.
I imagine the hum of it all and the static, the waiting and the tangle. I imagine what it would be like for you to still be someone worth calling and I imagine what I would say if you ever picked up. Probably an apology. Probably nothing.
Hello? Are you there?
Are you there?
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.