mental marker

In middle school, three hurricanes passed through Florida in the span of a few weeks. One lingered all day — 14 hours — and I sat on the phone with a friend for the entirety of it. We watched movies, we napped, we ate meals, we talked, we breathed on the phone in silence interspersed by giggles, we asked repeatedly if the other person was still there. It was glorious and made the entire experience feel like some sort of grand adventure. We watched the wind and rain and sky regularly asking, “did you see that too?” when suddenly the hurricane would pick up. In my kid mind, the threat of death was looming making the entire decision to sit on the phone feel that much more intense. It felt like a watered down answer to the “How would you spend your final day on earth if a meteor was coming?” I think I’d want everyday intimacy.

I spent seven and half hours on the phone today entirely by accident. The day started in and out of sleep, reading articles, answering texts, playing all the NYT games, cuddling with cats. I did my morning ritual a bit later walking to the coffee shop and making a delicious breakfast. Rather than driving to the Oregon coast as I’ve been trying to do each week, I opted for planning my day around a workout at the local aquatics center that has a gym setup in the back. It was glorious to lift weights. As one friend remarked on the phone, it’s a different kind of healing and meditation. I felt like I returned to myself having access to that ritual once more. In the midst of it, I remembered how another friend once told me during a deep depressive time: “A 20 pound weight is a 20 pound weight no matter where you are”. It’s a wildly comforting thought.

Riding that gym high, the phone calls began. As soon as I hung up with one person, it felt like another would call with little windows of 10-15 minutes to myself. I relished in answering each today (it’s not always like that). I loved the chance to not stare at a damn screen or get lost in a fictional story of a TV show. I love how unplanned they were. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the day swapping stories, questions, thoughts with friends from across different parts of my life. I walked around the neighborhood, sat in the sun, ate dinner, paced around the house — all while soaking in how lucky I felt to have folks to call and to have the capacity to answer.

This time last year, I struggled to pick up the phone and talk to folks. I was sending dozens of cards pouring out so many words but I hardly had capacity to call, except for a few very close friends. I’m wildly… relieved. I thought I lost a part of myself in the pandemic, isolated away. I wondered if the desire to connect more regularly would ever truly return or if I was destined to be in a state of forcing myself, knowing that talking to others was “good for me”.

So much healing and very intentional capacity building went into being able to not just handle but enjoy All The Calls today. It feels like such a solid mental marker of how far I’ve come in the span of a year. More and more, I’m having those moments where I pick my head up and am struck at how much I’m returning to myself. Like little moments standing inside a coffee shop this week (with a mask on) listening to the sound of others around me chit chatting away. The hollowness of the empty coffee shop I wasn’t able to even enter for most of the pandemic in Salt Lake City still echoes in my memory. Now I wonder what remains to heal from that time rather than feeling what needs to everyday.


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