Today my cell phone lit up with a notification that I had missed a call while being held hostage in the salon chair. (A cut and style usually takes about an hour, with nearly twenty minutes of that dedicated to blow-drying and straightening my unruly hair.)
Later, when I checked my messages, a recording rudely informed me, “Your mailbox is full. Please delete saved messages in order to receive new ones.”
I knew this day was coming.
This has actually happened a few times before, and now it was time to make hard decisions all over again.
You see, over the past year and a half, I’ve sometimes saved Lover’s voicemail, the ones that made me laugh or made me smile.
Who knew I could be such a soft-hearted romantic?
The first one saved is the very first he ever left for me. I like hearing his polite neutrality, the soft inflection when he says my name, and even the scripted formality of his words. “Hi Sunny, this is L. I’m sorry I missed you; I was hoping we could chat before the end of the evening. If you do have some time, give me a call back. If not, perhaps I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye.”
The second message is perhaps two or three months into our new relationship. He was rambling, a stream of conscious commentary until he caught himself mid-way through, as if he suddenly realized that there is no do-over with voicemail! “Hi, this is L, I wanted to text but my hands are actually cramped after working at the computer all night, oh my god, the night that was never-ending, so many small problems that turned into big problems that turned into–Dr. Seuss, I sound like I’m on my way to being Dr. Seuss, except none of this really rhymes. If any of this makes sense, call me. Or just call me anyway.”
Then the third message: “Ah, so Nature is really trying to give you a phobia about snakes! Snakes on the running trail, and then a rattler in your yard! Call me for moral support, I’m here for you.”
Suddenly I remember that day; I was jogging down the hot dusty trail of the Canal Loop in Auburn when another runner came rushing up from the opposite direction.
“Snakes,” the man wheezed, “back down that way.” And just like that I did an about face and began running, with much more intensity than before, and scanning the dirt path for any more of the camouflaged creatures.
Returning home to Grass Valley, I paused in my driveway when I heard a strange sound, like a sprinkler that was broken. Hshhhh, hsshhh, it went.
My first thought was, Maybe it belongs to the neighbors…watering their lawn at three in the afternoon. In July. In California.
It’s a good thing that I was tired, because I actually stopped to think this through.
Otherwise, I would have stepped on that fat reptile hiding in the bushes right next to my garage.
Do you have any idea how much I detest snakes?
And then the next message, when Lover sounded like he was literally calling me from under the covers, just to tell me goodnight, but mostly it sounds like, “Mwhahmkbubye.”
Followed by a few weeks later: “Ah-ha, the order of the Universe is disrupted! I’m getting ready to go out for coffee, and you’re not–oh, wait, I think that’s you calling right now. Order restored!”
And the next…and the next…and the next.
In the end I could only delete one, and that’s only because I terminated it right before the voicemail actually began to play. I knew if I listened to the whole thing, I wouldn’t be able to erase it.
I know it’s silly.
I’ve know I’ve only borrowed some time before I have to do this again.
But until then, I want to preserve this tiny piece of our story, the progression of beginning with proper introductions to no-names-needed, listening to his tone of voice and the ten different ways he says my name…
But I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s stupid, if it means something to me.