Sometimes I picture myself throwing my phone out the window, or dunking it in a bathtub full of water, or letting it get run over by a subway train. I think of how often it becomes a vessel for my neediness, my insistence on checking in, my tendency to initiate even in the face of silence. I’ve kept so many conversations going on days, weeks, years after they should have ended, because I can never stop my phantom fingers from picking up the phone and sending one of those light-yet-incredibly-heavy “hey”s. I wish that I knew how to be the girl who was detached and effortless, who responds after the appropriate time frame to let you know she has other shit going on, but I don’t. I text first, and I text back right away.
There’s never any question of whether or not I’m busy. I might be, but if you’re one of the handful of people my brain has settled on as Very Important, my busyness has no bearing on how long I will take to respond. I’m always available, always ready to roll over in bed and type a “Yeah, I’m up” from behind bleary, red eyes. I’ve been two minutes from bed, makeup off and pajamas on, when the right person has texted me and sent me out into the city again looking for something. They’ll never know that I was ready to call it a night, because for them, I’m always on.
Sometimes I wish my addiction to communication stopped at my romantic relationships. Sure, everyone gets pressed over a crush every now and then and can’t stop themselves from sending four messages in a row (in an ever-more-panicky attempt to seem chill), that’s normal. Some of us even go so far as to delete their numbers in our phones to prevent ourselves from being that person, from revealing the true extent of our need to say something, to fill the space. If you remove that temptation, you have to wait until they deem it the right time to reach out – and then that will be precisely the right time. You don’t have that judgment, so you let someone else make the call.
But my texting doesn’t stop at crushes. I’ll get a friend-crush, as obsessive and antsy as any romantic relationship I’ve ever had. I’ll want to see them, to share funny things, to show them everything that reminds me of them. I’ll want to know where they are, and feel the pull of envy when I hear it’s with some other friend I’ve never heard of. I fall in love with friends the way I do with partners, and they’re used to my name popping up over and over with some new, funny thing I’ve found that they just have to see. Maybe if I’d waited another few minutes, they would have reached out to me, but I’ll never let it go that far. When I’m in the rush of things, constant communication is like a drug, and I never want the conversation to end.
The only way it ends is if the pull of the connection softens, if we slip from friend to acquaintance and no longer need to be writing our own private story. Acquaintances are great, we have a million of them. But love is something so wonderful and rare, and for some of us, the only excuse we need to let our neediness bleed in full. I suppose I show love by annoying, by being just a little too present and never keeping up that attractive screen of mystery on my life. I always text first, because I have no shame. Passion, to me, is something that must be burned like a slip of paper – I can never take it in small doses, or let the anticipation build. If I want you, I want you now, now, now.
A friend was telling me recently about a date that went badly, that seemed promising at first but was squandered by the guy’s insistence on texting her twice in the next two days, and always initiating the conversation. She laughed at his openness, his frank expression of need and interest. I laughed along because that’s what you do, but I felt the criticism as much for myself as I did for him. I am that person, in another body. I am that need to reach out, that burning desire to say hello, and to start another conversation – to get more of you. I don’t think my friend will ever see that guy again, and I briefly wondered how many people I’ve lost out on because they couldn’t take the beep-beep of my presence in their lives.
Oh, well, I thought, and pressed send on another message.