For about two years now, Chris and I have not had a house phone. We’ve been relying entirely on our cell phones ever since we moved out to Oklahoma from California. This set-up would work wonderfully excepting for the fact that one of us never remembers to turn their phone ON or even remembers to take their phone with them when they leave the house. Let me also just say that the one responsible for this phone deficiency is also the one in the relationship who checks their voicemail roughly ONCE A MONTH. (Alright… it’s ME.) Since communication is most decidedly a two-way street, Chris has found himself frustrated and worried on many occasions because he simply cannot get ahold of me.
Now, add to all of this that our cell phones don’t get reception in our new house, and you’re pretty much up to speed with how things have been going the last few months.
Sooo… yesterday we had a land line installed.
We then dug around in boxes looking for our old ‘land phone’ for a good part of the day. Chris finally found it in the garage, and he set it out for me to hook up as he headed back to work for the afternoon. I hooked the phone up in the kitchen and made a few calls (perfectly CLEAR calls, mind you!) and messed with some of the phone settings before I noticed the blinking ‘2’ on the answering machine’s display.
My heart skipped a little beat.
I realized that these were old messages- 2 messages saved on our phone from that emotionally charged day in time when we took one last look at our tiny one bedroom apartment in beautiful San Luis Obispo, California, and then closed the door on it for good. Ezra was five months old.
And we had no idea what we were doing.
The tiny whisper in our hearts (“oklahoma?”) had been loud enough, God enough for us to be suddenly trading in our apartment keys for the keys to a leaky, squeaky U-haul… a U-haul that was headed to a state that we’d never been in but for a short visit three months prior… one that didn’t hold a single familiar face except for the lone face of our dear friend Joel.
I excitedly pushed the button on the answering machine.
First Message: Joel. Telling us he’d bought tickets to fly to Reno and help us with the rest of the move from there.
Instantly I remembered Chris and Joel jumping into the frigid Truckee River in the middle of the night in Reno- the very night before they left for Oklahoma in the U-haul truck together.
I remembered the nervous questions, the nervous laughter, and the moments when Chris and I would be staring blankly into each other’s faces- minds elsewhere… minds churning on the ‘what-ifs?’ until we were snapped back into reality and didn’t know how long we’d been sitting like that, staring right through one another.
I remember watching the U-haul pull out of my parent’s driveway as I wrestled with the knot in my throat and the knot in my stomach at the same time. The knots won, but the fight was never fair- it was two against one.
Message Two: From our precious friend Skylana. Her voice hit my ear just like an old, well-loved song that I hadn’t heard in years (but once knew all the words to) might have. It was like a comfy, cozy blanket being squeezed out of my answering machine speakers as she told me how much she loved me and how badly she wanted to see me before I left for Oklahoma. Hearing her voice made me realize how quickly things change, how swift time really is. She’s a wife now. A mother now. And part of me feels so sad to have missed all of that. It somehow makes these past two years feel like decades.
There are times like these when I miss my sweet friends in California. I miss my family in Nevada. I miss that tiny town tucked in the rolling coastal hills. These voices on my answering machine are snippets of my old life trapped in time- now played back in the kitchen of my very first house while a two year old is running laps around the coffee table with no pants on.
But this is what makes life so exciting and so worth living, yes? In another few years I could be reminiscing about Oklahoma while living on a boat floating about in the Arctic or while looking out into my backyard which also just happens to be a emerald green field in Ireland somewhere… (why not?) I could be living among the poor in Atlanta or enjoying a sunset over the Puget Sound. Or I could still be sitting RIGHT HERE, at my desk in wonderful Oklahoma.
God is alluringly unpredictable.
I want a life full of unknowns. I want a life that is full of reminiscing! Full of remembering! Full of room for fond memories! I don’t want to live in fear of the ‘What-Ifs’… to let the ‘What-Ifs’ back me into a corner and steal my precious time.
Time is swift. And sometimes it takes an old dusty answering machine to wake me up to the present– to the brimming now that is already passing so quickly.