Pay Phone Booth Love Calls
We dated long-distance when we were in college. We’d spend hours emailing each other and talking on the phone. Our love is so old it predates cell phones, so JD would wait in line at a pay phone booth on campus, often wearing two jackets to stay warm on the cold Bay Area nights, to call me in my dorm room in Los Angeles. He’d call 10-10-220, then dial my phone number, and I’d accept the bargain call (“Talk for 20 minutes for only $.99 cents!” the ad touted) and we’d hang up at the 19th minute. Then he’d call back. We repeated this pattern for endless calls each night. (Don’t judge, we were college kids on a budget.)
He was the person who’d talk to me for hours to ensure I felt him by my side, even when he wasn’t.
I forgot about our pay phone booth calls until one afternoon last week, after a particularly awful morning, I walked to my car after leaving the grocery store. I was tired, frustrated, and felt like everything I tried with work, just wasn’t enough. On top of this, I was suppose to do something for a friend and instead of feeling helpful, I felt alone and sad by the burden of her request. My flip-flops dragged against the pavement as I walked to my car and threw my bags in the backseat.
A car honked. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with an impatient driver. I slowly tugged at my seatbelt when I heard the car honk again. The driver waved at me. I wasn’t in the mood, so I put the car in reverse, but stopped with the driver held a cup of coffee out the window at me.
I shielded the sun from my eyes and realized that the driver was my husband. Confused, I turned off my car and walked to his. I opened the passenger door and slid into the seat and JD handed me a cup of coffee. I followed you here because I knew you were having a bad day…so we’re going to drink this at the beach, he announced.
We spent 15 minutes watching the waves roll, talking about our late night calls in college, and enjoying the hope of an unknown future. In that moment, I thanked God for pay phone booths, for AOL instant messenger, and love letters connecting me to the boy who would turn into the man of my dreams.
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