I loved you two phones ago. You aren’t welcome in this one. It took two SIM cards to truly erase you, but I did and I started to forget. The texts were deleted and the ringtone forgotten. I stopped getting my hopes up with every phone buzz and I exercised incredible self control to not inundate you with pings. Eventually, I upgraded and I deleted you. I moved on to smarter smartphones and you became a ghost haunting the shell of a lifeless Samsung Blackjack. But four years and two devices later, you found your way back in.
Technology can protect your identity, but it can’t protect your heart. Not even Steve Jobs can run interference with the seven digits that damaged your goods, although there’s probably an app for that. I suppose I should have known it could happen at any moment, but I assumed that once I moved on, our paths would never cross again for the rest of eternity. And if they ever did, I would look f**king fabulous. (Jokes! I would be hungover and smell like stale french fries.) We didn’t have a run-in at a coffee shop or bookstore or anywhere else pathetically predictable. But one notification was enough to send a pile of unused emotions hurling from the past straight into the present. They weren’t gone, they weren’t forgotten. Just sitting, unused, in a box in the back corner of the attic where nobody ever goes, because it’s only used for storage.
No punctuation, no content, no indication of what he wanted. No reason to say anything at all. Only salutations. Birthdays had passed, graduations had passed, even my mother had passed, all with a constant string of silence on the other end of the line. But thanks to the past, I knew him well enough to understand those two stupid characters spoke volumes. His succinct “Hi” said it all– “I’m sorry for the way things ended and you’re right to think I’m an asshole. And you have really pretty hair.” Okay, maybe not the last part. He would never actually say any of that, but the sentiment was lingering there. Moreover, it was physically there, on my phone. The phone that, now two phones later, was finally introduced to the memories of my past. 2008, meet 2012. You two have a lot to catch up on.
Suddenly, it’s four years ago. It’s hard not to reply within milliseconds. And it’s especially hard to be cool when you want so badly to be. You remember every text and glance and goodnight like they were last night. That loaded “Hi” says so much more than hello and you know it, you know exactly what it says and you have so much to say back. Love, hate, anger, suspense and hormones push your adrenaline into overdrive. Where did these goosebumps come from? All of this and so much more from two stupid letters, that he didn’t even punctuate. The sheepish bastard couldn’t even double his keystrokes and decide between a period and an exclamation point, even though he knew it read to me like a question mark. Your heart and your brain don’t always communicate, they don’t always live in the present and they’re certainly not being reasonable right now; proceed with caution.
It didn’t go much beyond polite smalltalk. I replied because I’m respectful, but I didn’t give in because I’m not a pushover. Not everyone can possess the right amounts of sass, self-confidence and success to pull that off, but dammit, I try. In the end, we’re both probably better off without each other. He still doesn’t belong in my phone, but I can make room for resolution.
You can read more from Elizabeth Entenman on her blog.
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