Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goodbye, Home Phone

My first home phone was in California, where I was born, and lived my first three years.

My second home phone was 428-0988. The first one that I memorized when I was a kid. I was three. Not only that, but I had to also memorize the 314 area code, in the event that I was kidnapped to another state. When we moved to a new house, my mom had them keep the same number, because I had already memorized it. For a few years, we answered our phone, "Hosanna Calvary Chapel", because it served as the church phone number.

My parents changed their number and the church number at the same time, in order to split the calls up properly. I was twelve when I memorized a second ten-digit number, my third home phone number, which is my parents number still.

My fourth number was probably the most exciting. Dad got a second line! Patrick and I had our own number! 314-428-4225. Okay, let's be realistic. I had my own number, which Patrick was allowed to use, and I had to be continuously reminded that it was his too. I was sixteen. We had just gotten the internet, which also shared the second line, and charged us by the minute. I also had to be continuously reminded to log offline when writing my lengthy emails to friends that I already saw twice a week. When we first got that number, we thought it was so hilarious, because we got lots of calls from the previous owner of the number: McDonald's. The number got further upgraded when Uncle Steve gave us his old answering machine. It had a full size cassette tape in it, and we could make catchy messages to our hearts' delight. My favorite phone was a clear plastic phone, with lights that flashed when it rang. The only thing that made it better was the day that Dad brought me home an unexpected present: a fifty-foot phone cord!! Now I could walk around the whole basement while on the phone!

Home phone number five was in Indianapolis. 317-823-0134? Joel and my first married number. I was twenty. Local phone only, and we continued to utilize calling cards for our many long distances calls to Missouri. We even had a phone on either side of our bed,... in our one room living space. One cordless (which died before the end of many long distance calls), so we also had the backup with a long cord. There were times Joel went to bed earlier, and I dragged the phone cord into the bathroom and sat there talking to my parents in Missouri or Lera in California.

I was twenty-one when I got my sixth home phone, as we moved to our condo in Maryland Heights. 314-739-9475. I always liked trying to find out if a phone number spelled something cool. Patrick and Tanya had a number that was ???-DOG-T, which rocked. Our condo number spelled SEX-WISK. Yeah, we didn't really publicize that.

October of 2005, we moved into our house. I was twenty-four. Home phone, number seven: 314-423-9066. It had a zero, which means you can't spell anything, but it was all ours. Part of our identity. It's what I spout off at checkout lines. It's what I fill into the blank right after "Address". It's who I am. It's stability. It's tradition. It's part of me.

Seven home phone numbers. Seven, the number of completion. Never would I have guessed that I'd turn thirty without having a home phone number. I won't be coming home to that little flashing red number, which denotes a call from an immediate family member, a telemarketer, a bill collector (in times past), or the occasional church friend. I will never again wonder, "Who did I get a message from?". Now my smarty-pants cell phone will tell me who called before I hear the message, taking away all the fun of the surprise. I would be upset that my kids will never memorize their home phone number, or be concerned that they will have to memorize two, both mine and Joel's. But c'mon, they will just program them into their own cell phones as soon as they blow out the two candles on their birthday cake.

One day, I will tell my grandchildren, as I recently told my nephew David, that people used to only be able to make calls from their home. David asked me, completely puzzled, "WHY could they only call from their HOME??", already knowing, at age five, the extreme inconvenience of this. But when I tell my grandchildren, perhaps they'll ask, "People had phones attached to their homes?". Then they'll look it up on the holographic version of wiki-future-pedia.

Goodbye, home phone. You are gone from the dresser top, but will not be forgotten in the cardboard box in the basement.