I used to come home, and as I walked through the door it would occur to me that perhaps while I was gone someone had tried to call me. That perhaps they had left me a message; that they wanted me to call them back. It would make me hopeful that in some small way someone had taken the time out of their day to think of me and then to do something about it. Hopeful that somewhere someone was waiting for ME, thinking of ME, wanting ME to reach out and touch them. Hopeful for the brief moment, every day when I came home from work or wherever I’d been, that it took to get from the front door to that blinking red light. A little of the joy of knowing that I’m wanted would creep in, and right up until I saw the little red light was burning steadily, announcing to the world that no one wants me, I would feel an uplifting emotional twinge. Sometimes there would even be a message, and that twinge would swell into a feeling and perhaps even into a worthwhile conversation with someone that cares about me. Sometimes there wouldn’t, and I would dip a little in mood and go on with my life.
Now, when I walk through my front door, coming home, I still feel that little twinge of hope that maybe there’s a message for me. A hope that someone thought of me. Yet as soon as my mind gets wind of this little flurry inside me, it reminds me that there are definitely no messages. There will never be a little red blinking light waiting for me. No one will have called my hhome looking for me and had to leave a message because I was out. That little twinge will never be fulfilled into a full-fledged feeling or a worthwhile conversation. My mind tells me this because my mind knows that I do not have an answering machine anymore. I do not have a telephone line into my home anymore. I carry my only phone along with me everywhere that I go. I get every call exactly when they call me. I get every message straight from the horses mouth, wherever I may be. If I can’t answer for some reason, the message is not recorded in some machine at home; it is turned into a voicemail that I can receive as soon as I’m available, wherever I am. My phone costs the same no matter where you are calling from, and as long as I’m in the US, it costs the same no matter where you’re calling to.
If I go away for a week, I don’t get to come home looking forward to seven times as many messages, seven times as many people who left a repeatable message that they were thinking of me, seven times as much desire to hear back from me. Instead, I come home and there’s nothing. I am consciously aware that everyone who wanted to get ahold of me did. That I spent a little extra to make myself available 24/7/52 to all those who so care so much that they would pick up a phone and call. That I was able to be there without making anyone wait a week for followup. Yet for some reason I feel like I’ve somehow been forgotten. I don’t want to be forever living in oblivion, or even just to feel like I am. I also want to be immediately available to anyone who need me for any reason, at any time. I want to be able to put whatever I’m doing on hold for the people I care about, the very moment they reach out to me.
This conundrum is clearly my own fault. Who else could be both glad and disappointed at the same time about the same thing? Who else would think for so long and so often about something so trivial and functionally resolved? Me and me.