Saturday, October 09, 2010

Disconnect

What a weird world it is.

I was with my friend Jessica, looking through books of monologues. She has some really good ones, recent ones, with stuff that people haven't heard a million times already. She said "Oh, this one's perfect!" and started reading it to me. I really liked it. It started out wry and sarcastic, which was good, because we were looking for funny. But then it got very serious. Too serious.

"Let me see it," I said. "Maybe we can cut it down to the funny bits." I started reading it over. I was pondering the situation when I saw something:

The author was a friend I've known for 26 years.

I mean, it could have been a coincidence. But my friend has a really distinctive name. And happens to be a playwright. It's just that she's never mentioned she was a published playwright.

I started laughing. I couldn't stop laughing for a while, so Jessica probably thought I was crazy. I made a mental note to call my friend later.

But the day went on and I forgot about it. Until I started telling David the story over dinner. He asked if I'd called her. I said "No, but I'm going to!" "Just not now," he said. "It's already late on the East Coast."

But I can text her, right? I scrolled through my phone for her number. It was there. I wrote:

Hey you. Are you up? I want to tell you something. :)

She texted right back.

Who's this?

Oh, right. I'm always forgetting that the whole world doesn't have me in their phone. I texted back instantly:

Sorry! It's _______. (I used my full name, including middle. Our full names have been sort of a joke between the two of us since the day we met. You just have to trust me on this.)

Now there was a really, really long lag time. It started to freak me out. I asked David about it. He said it was late, and she was probably tired.

"I don't buy it," I told him. "Because she was up for the first one. And it's ME. If she got a message from me saying 'I want to tell you something' she'd respond in a second, no matter how late. I mean, what if something was really wrong? It's ME."

David said he would never have considered this logic, but now that I presented it to him, he was convinced. At that moment, my phone beeped again.

Hmmm....I don't seem to know you.

Readers, could anything more gorgeously encapsulate the state of communication at this particular moment in history? I sent a message to a friend I've known most of my life. I typed that message on my own little smudgy device with my hot little fingers and sent it out into the air. It arrived. But where did it arrive? A real person received it. I don't know where, or who. And that person was probably Googling me wondering who the heck is this?

I just know they had good grammar ("who's!") and seemed reasonably polite. Two things they share with my friend.

I texted back:

I am soooooo sorry. Old number. Have a good evening. That seemed sort of too formal and too intimate, but somehow right.

The response was immediate:

That's okay. U 2.

Then I deleted the number. I realized that my face was burning hot, and my fingers were sort of trembling. What was bothering me so much? That I corresponded with a stranger? Who could have been mean and troll-y and horrible but luckily wasn't? Was I just embarrassed? I wasn't sure.

But the next day I was still thinking about it. And I'd changed my mind about what was so disconcerting.

Because the correspondence could have been with my friend. Don't misunderstand me. I love her. I know I will always know her and love her. When we see each other, even though it's not often, it couldn't be more natural. But she lives 3,000 miles away and has now for 17 years. We are both married with kid. We don't talk on the phone very often (that much is surely obvious.) We don't see each other much.

And I didn't know she was a published author. That's pretty huge. I have always known she was a writer. And been proud of her. Turns out I had even more reason to be proud, but somehow it never came up. When I wanted to tell her, it turned out I don't even have her most recent number.

See, when I got that message, Who's this? it never entered my mind that it wasn't her, just that I wasn't in her phone. And when I got Hmmm....I don't seem to know you it was like a slap in the face. I don't seem to know you. I don't seem to know you. Why don't I know you, better than I do? Why don't you know me? Why are you having to tell me this "funny" story in the middle of the night when you should already KNOW ME? It was like a gentle reproach. You don't seem to know me. Or you'd know this already. And we are kind to each other, glossing over this gaffe because we do care even though we have drifted. Have a nice evening. U 2.

I still need to call her.

5 comments:

Caroline Bridges said...

Oh my goodness. How awful was that? I felt the burn just reading it. You are great at conveying the emotion of a situation, and I love how you analyzed your reaction at the end. Made perfect sense after going through that "with you." :) Hope you get to call her soon and laugh about it all.

Stephanie said...

Film your monologue of her piece and FB her with it!

Jen said...

How totally weird! I think you need to contact her as soon as possible so that you can get all of the weirdness to go away! You had me on the edge of my seat with this post. I hope that you resolve it soon. I love Stephanie's idea!

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh. :-(

But hooray for polite strangers...and I hope you get to talk to your friend soon!

The Wades said...

What Jen said.