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Monday, December 10, 2012

having a phone

It’s been a while since I had a phone and I got one this weekend. Already I miss the anonymity that comes with only communicating with who I wanted when I wanted. I was in charge of all communication having to do with me, people could try to get in touch with me but it was incumbent upon me to respond when I wanted in the manner I wanted. A lot of people will say that texts do this but I was born in a time before texts, if someone calls me I can’t let it ring and ring. They have me immediately. It’s not a bad thing just something I had forgotten about.

I had forgotten about how a ring feels. There’s a tuuut, tuuut, tuuuut, when you try to call someone. Your phone has this deep abyss in it and there’s a siren singing inside of it. I have no idea what the other person’s ringtone is at this point but right then al l I know is that I am the one making the siren call. And I get filled with anticipation especially if it’s a girl I like. How she answers, if she answers, how long it will take for her to answer. For a few rings the fires of expectations are stoked and then it reaches the point of diminishing returns. There is a point after a certain number of rings when you just know that the other person won’t pick up. You know with a crystal certainty but a lot of times you still hold on to the phone. The reasons for them not having picked up  range from inaudibility to unavailability to avoidance no matter the reason at that point you know. It’s like cresting a hill, with every one of the first rings you expect to see this sunrise at the end of the phone call. You expect to hear the voice you called, to receive the information you wanted, to sate the curiosity you had and then you reach the midpoint of the hill and you glimpse darkness. Now the sirens don’t sound so beautiful at least to you. The tuuut, tuut, tuuut begins to be irritating. It feels like its fading into darkness and sometimes you cut it off. Depending on how good you feel about yourself right then the emotion with which you cut it can range from indifference through frustration to anger, depending on how important this particular message was your moods change too, depending on how many times this has happened in the past the severity of how you feel shits. The sirens are drowned in the darkness of that abyss and their song is throttled and ugly, irritating and one you just want to end.

Speaking of sirens and the music they make. I realised that I can only cycle through 2 out of 3 of the entertaining arts as I like to call them. Either I’ll listen to music and read or watch TV and movies and read. There’s never enough time in all my days for all 3. Recently music fell through a hole and I can’t retrieve it. But am watching this television show called Treme about New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. This is a city that is flooded with music. This show has sequences of song running all through it. Practically soaked in the jazz and rap of the region. Every few scenes there will be a trumpet and horns band playing; you will hear the sweet strings of a guitar or the versatility of a piano. One of the characters plays violin in this show and she makes it sing. To me a violin has always been closest to a human voice. It’s the only one with the ability to scream in my uninformed opinion. The guitar is laid back you can see someone playing it in an island somewhere, it’s the instrument that tells you to chill, just relax and let this music take over. It’s held in your hands and your fingers play with it. It’s not the most impersonal of instruments you hold it in your arms you cuddle it like a baby and it makes you feel chilled. The piano is classy even when it’s not; the piano is the one that brings to mind the ballroom and rich people. It just does. I see gloves when I think about the piano. The thing is it’s the grandfather of them all it can play anything in any form, all the different kinds of octaves and chords there are can be recreated by the piano. But you don’t really own her. You touch her with just the tips of your fingers. She’s an arm’s length away and the kind of relaxing a piano asks you to do is not the kind a guitar does. It’s not an island instrument, it’s not an under a tree instrument, it’s an in a shelter instrument. It belongs to jungles of concrete. Then we have the violin. You take her and you hold her close. You put your cheek on her and you completely possess her. The violin when you play her takes a bit of your soul. It demands eyes closed. It asks for passion with every single stroke. It screams and screams and screams.

On Friday I was at a party and I met this girl. She had the most beautiful laugh I have heard in ages. It warms you up, she gives everything she has to that laugh, she reaches back and pulls it from a place of sincerity and comfort. She bursts out laughing and in the actual sense of that word she really has no idea she’s going to laugh until she does and when she does she catches herself by surprise every time. And I imagine she got used to surprising herself because she doesn’t try to hold it back. When you can feel a laugh come you  prepare for it you can make sure your throat doesn’t throw back your head, you can make sure your mouth doesn’t swallow up all the misery in the room and bark out glee. You can make it less spontaneous but she can’t. Her laughter was like music, rolling plains and rumbling thunder (but only the kind that rumbles when you are safe in bed.) it sounded red and yellow definitely no greens and blues. It was the laughter of passion ,of one who loved to hold the world by its balls and not let go until every single wring of pleasure had been wrung out of it.

Sunday night and am watching another episode of Treme. Every scene infused with this music. 5 minutes of a band performance comes on screen and that’s all the band does, perform. The music isn’t used as an excuse for a montage sometimes it feels like the show is used as an excuse for the music. And I could feel it in my body. It sounds strange when I write it but I could actually feel the music or see it at least. My blood flowed red and gold. The music ran up and down my body and again and again. And these were the colours of jazz. It’s not safe music. Its jumping up and down, it’s the red you see when you close your eyes against the sun, it’s the orange of a fruit that you’re almost sure is too ripe, it’s the black of the night when you are a little scared that something will happen but more hopeful that it won’t .

Then m y phone rang (another thing I had forgotten about: the interruptions of life.)A phone can ring at the most inopportune moments. It can ring when you are so deep asleep the sound becomes part of your dream, it can ring, not during sex because it takes a lot more than a one minute distraction to stop that roller coaster but in the moment before when everything is dreamlike and foggy and nothing is held in proper space, those moments of infinite looks and thoughts that seem to hold everything, it can ring then. It can ring in the middle of a jazz experience and I can see how a phone ring sounds. It breaks you out of revelry. There are the rare moments of magic in the world. Those moments when time slows or speeds but exists outside of what it usually does. When a phone rings in those moments a bubble is burst and the magic is gone. It can be recreated but never as magical or as fresh and it’s lost forever. And you know the colours a phone makes when it rings? (I use the traditional home phone ring.) they are silvers against black. They are practical colours. Colours with a purpose, tiny daggers flashing out to rip through the darkness of night or the beauty of moments. Of all the things I did not miss about a phone it was this. The interruption.

Then it was the girl with the laugh and the world became yellow and red again. This I had missed. The ability to just talk to someone somewhere as soon as you think of them. This too is a certain kind of magic.


  1. I like that you can draw so much from the simple, almost mechanical act of making a phone call :-)

  2. i guess it was cos it had been so long since i last felt it it all felt very new