Phone calls and voicemails have slowly slipped away from my routine and have felt like things of the past. My friends and I used to leave funny voicemails or call each other for a quick chat. It slowly ebbed away, and I’m not sure when it stopped. My friends on the street have helped me to rekindle this lost habit.
While face-to-face interaction is always preferred with friends, it is not reality. Physical distance and rhythm of life can interrupt. There can be long pauses in between the hugs. During those pauses, most of my housed friends and I text. It’s a generational habit, but I believe something is lost in this type of exchange.
A lot of my friends on the street are closer to my parents’ generation. With that, the preferred method of communication in those pauses is a phone call. I have been trying to be more aware of this and am renewing the habit I used to hold. On a lunch break or a quick drive, I muster up the courage to dial that phone number.
If that friend picks up, do you know what’s waiting for me? A smile on the other side. On a call with my friend Robert, I could hear him grinning ear to ear as he told me about his new (to him) vehicle he just got and that his housing is coming up. He has been living in the motel for several months where the City of Dallas placed people. After a recent vacation, I got a belly laugh from Bobby as he said “There she is… the world traveler. I need to go with YOU all next time.” Bobby is a grill master who used to live on the streets and has been in an apartment for about a year. During a lunch break, I was cutting it up with Teresa. Teresa has been on the streets for years and recently moved in with a family member a bit further away. A coworker walked by during this and later commented how good that conversation must have been. She was right. It was very good. Hearing their voice, having the quick banter, I didn’t realize how much I have missed this. LOL doesn’t replace hearing an actual laugh. The red heart emoji doesn’t replace hearing the care in the tone of their voice.
On the flip side, if I’m not free to take the call of my friend, there’s a high chance a voicemail is left with a message that doesn’t get lost in a text conversation. Something that can be replayed when I’m free and even saved for the future for a rainy day. There have been several times after I finish my 12 hour shift as a 911 call taker/dispatcher, where these voicemails have made a heavy day much lighter.
Hearing a person’s voice touches me in a way a text cannot reach. I am grateful to my friends for helping to remind me of this. At the end of a chat, Robert told me “I am so glad you called.” Me too Robert. Me too.