258-3729 That was my phone number in high school. I had at least a dozen numbers memorized, and not a one of them included the area code in my head. I could dial up any number of friends, family members, boyfriends (old and new), the beauty shop, the dog wash, the record store, and even Time and Temperature ("At Arkansas Valley State Bank, we don't wrap our green money in red tape!") without even thinking about it.
I lived with my Mom and Sister in the 90s, and we all had equal claim over the one phone line we shared. Mom was a busy executive, president of two local businesses, my Sister had just entered the dating world in a big way, and I had friends I liked to chat with late into the night. Whenever the phone ran, we all three would dive for it, like synchronized swimmers. My kitchen phone.
Sis and I begged Mom for an additional line, but we could never decide if we'd have to share it, or just get one for each of us. Three phone lines for one household was unheard of -- extravagant in the extreme. We never got even the one. Whenever the phone was for Mom, and she was out, I took messages on this exact message pad (I swiped from my job)
My boyfriend once gave me a quarter taped to a note, claiming, "There's always a phone," after I forgot to call him one weekend. I had been out with friends and failed to include him in the fun. One quarter, and a trip to IHOP would have fixed the whole situation. Pay phones were everywhere. There was indeed, always a phone. I still have that quarter somewhere...
Mom trusted us. If we said we were going to Metro Diner, we went to Metro Diner. If we said we were going to Mohawk Music, we went to Mohawk Music. If we said we were going to the park, we went to park, just like we said! No one ever had to stop in the middle of having fun to answer their phone, or check their email, or send a text, ever. We were in the moment purely and wholly.
My phone was a means to an end growing up. The phone was for making appointments, and excepting those late-night sessions, not keeping them. Now I can have entire conversations, make decisions, make plans, change my mind, navigate complicated relationship terrain, and send congratulations without even hearing another person's voice. I don't think about it very often, but when I do, I feel conflicted.
I'm going to take some time out over the next few days and memorize a couple of numbers.