As I write, my man is about to start pouring footings for our new home (as long as the rain stays away long enough that the concrete trucks won’t get stuck in the mud). I can’t wait until he calls this evening, to hear all about how it went.
Waiting for the phone to ring each night, I wonder how I ever went to sleep at night without hearing his voice say “goodnight”. It wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t talk but once every week or so. But I cherish his phone calls all the more now.
I wrote this piece a year ago, in the early days of our courtship. It reflects the way our friendship looked then…
“You say it best when you say nothing at all…” The song sung by Alison Krauss is one of my man’s and my favorites. Which probably explains a bit of why we don’t talk on the phone each night right now. It’s really hard to “say nothing at all” over the phone. And it’s even harder when his siblings flock around him while he talks to me, joining in the conversation.
We love to hear each other’s voice on the phone! We usually talk for an hour or so each weekend. And sometimes we’ll call each other in the middle of the week just to say hi. But there are those quiet pauses sometimes. And as I wrote him, those quiet moments are the ones in which I’m so excited to be on the phone with you that I am thinking only of that, and not what to say next. And then I forget that telephones are for talking, not smiling!
At first it was really hard for me to get over my concept of “girls don’t call guys.” I used to just always call his sisters, then he would steal the phone. But then it became different. I wanted to talk to him, not his sisters. And everybody knew it. But I felt awkward about actually placing the call because I had grown up with the old-fashioned ideal that girls shouldn’t call boys. It’s taken quite some time for Merritt to convince me (and he still has to remind me sometimes) that I’m not being scandalous to call him. It really is okay to call him–I mean, we’re courting! In fact, he often asks me to call him at a certain time. And he has told me to call him whenever I need to.
But we don’t talk on the phone every night. We both live with our families, and out of respect to them we can’t spend all hours on the phone to each other. But even more importantly, I want to practice being quiet when the last thing he needs is a bunch of words. He doesn’t need a girl chattering in his ear on the phone every night after a long day of work. Neither will he need his wife to lay all my troubles before him, and tell him every detail of my day, the moment he gets in from work, once we’re married.
I have a very rare man who wants to know the details, who treasures every word I write to him, who doesn’t want to hang up when we’re on the phone. But I want to keep it that way. I don’t want him to feel like the guys I work with whose girlfriends call them all the time. They never jump up to get the phone. And they always ask, “What’s up?” like “You better have something important to tell me.”
Merritt likes it when I call without a reason. It makes him feel special, that I called just because. But I only do that about once every month or so. I think we appreciate our phone conversations more for their rarity. It’s something we can look forward to all week.
I think a lot of it also has to do with how long we’ve been falling in love (nearly nine years), how long it will be until we can be together forever (we don’t know), and the long distance between us (488 miles). I’m a-thinkin’ I couldn’t survive sanely for an indefinite time with such constant contact.
But truly, we just plain like writing letters best! Merritt has never had internet access, so we’ve never emailed or instant messaged. It’s always been old-fashioned letters…with love stamps. Like Merritt says, though it might be nice to be able to email each other, he’s rather glad that we can’t, because otherwise he wouldn’t have the boxes of letters that he does.
We’ve been writing letters for nearly five years. Writing him has become like breathing to me. I don’t simply think about things anymore; I think about how I’m going to write Merritt about them! As I’ve told him, even if I’m privileged to someday live at the same mailing address as you, I have the feeling I still won’t be able to break the habit of writing you letters.
My man says it best: “You know, as much fun as it is to talk to you on the phone, I really like corresponding via letter, so let’s not neglect to do it, okay? Just think of the times that we’ve waited for that letter to show up in our mail boxes. A phone conversation is great, but as it has been said, ‘A book is a gift that you can open again and again,’ and I feel the same about your letters. Each one is a special gift from a dear friend. And it takes a certain amount of time and effort to write, which means that it must be important enough to sit down and put our thoughts on paper.”
So yes, I positively treasure my minutes on the phone with my man. Even when he’s in a silly mood and teases me lots (because he knows I can’t tickle him over the phone!). Even when we’re both so tired we should have been sleeping hours ago, yet we don’t want to hang up. The only good thing about saying our goodbyes is hearing those three little words–I can never tire of hearing him tell me he loves me…
However, wonderful as it is to hear my man’s voice across the miles, I could do without Alexander Graham Bell’s invention. Just don’t take away my mailbox!
“Unlike a telephone call, letters take commitment and concentration.
They’re like paper kisses, some short and sweet, others long and deep.”
-Susan Besze Wallace
in Love & War: 250 Years of Wartime Love Letters
“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters! You can’t reread a phone call.”