The conundrum of the phone call situation is that I do actually have the mathematical time to return them. But, considering what it takes to return a phone call: the geography, the headspace, the time commitment, the concentration to conversationally catch up, the mathematical time isn’t a great quantifying measure. Returning phone calls is up there with serious commitments like getting married. So when I say I don’t have time or that I’m too busy, I don’t mean in minutes; I don’t mean that I’m flying around with my jet pack strapped to my shoulders on the run all day. What I mean is that I can’t sacrifice all that it takes to commit to a phone call. Or, to be real and raw, I won’t. I value the now too much; phone calls don’t feel like right now to me.
It’s part of the reason I tried so hard and for so many years to brand myself as a letter-writer. Everyone knows. Everyone who knows even a little knows this about me. And they don’t write, no one does (Yes, Strongs, except for you). So I feel, even self-righteously (I’ll admit), totally justified in my ignored voicemails, when my mailbox is empty of your letter.
With a letter, I can choose my geography and a comfortable headspace. I can start the letter on the train, where the cell phone towers can’t reach, and stop when I arrive at work with minutes to spare. I can finish when I get home, listening to Cold War Kids in my stereo speakers and eating an apple at the desk. I can take a walk while I deliver your letter, I can make an appointment, or call my mom (my mom does get calls back; don’t fuss, it’s different). I enjoy writing in a way I do not enjoy the labor of calls, especially calls back, when I’m on the guilty end of the exchange, so stuck and jailed by my phone call obligations. If these nuances could just be public about the weaving and knitting inside of me, I would never have personal, only professional, voicemails. In the meanwhile, I make no sincere apology about this thing I do not do.