Cell-ing my Soul
I am the kind of person who has a very hard time getting over things. My sense of nostolgia is strong. For instance, it pains me to throw out a receipt from a great meal out with friends, or the ticket stub from an exceptional concert. They're mementos of fun times, and just by looking at them I am brought back to the moment. I like that feeling. However, said receipts and ticket stubs pile up, and really, they're just trash. So, eventually and with a heavy heart, I drop them into the wastebasket (and then, usually, immediately bring the garbage out to the bins so as not to tempt myself to pick them out of the wastebasket). I'm also pretty sure my mother is going to sell the house I grew up in. While dinner receipts are petty, this will be monumental. I may flip out. It won't be pretty. And I don't want to expound on this any more. I'm not quite ready to fully face the inevitable.
But somewhere in the middle of these two extremes lies my current situation. It comes in the form of a new cell phone. I resisted getting a cell phone for the longest time. I laughed at the cliche of a guy pacing the sidewalk in front of his apartment or office building as he chatted to whoever on the other end of the line. I kept up the notion that cell phones were for slick richy-rich folks WAY past the time this was actually the case. But, eventually, I saw their practicality. I'd need to ask someone a quick question, or tell someone where to meet me, and to do so I'd be forced to borrow someone else's phone. And since I didn't know how they worked, I'd need said phone owner to place the call for me. It was a really bizarre modern-day operator type experience. "Hello, operator? I need help placing a long-distance call to 212, please." So finally, in 2002, I cracked and I bought a cell phone. Two days later it was my birthday, and I was doing the "guy-pacing-in-front-of-his-apartmen" move, talking to a friend who had called and left a message on my home phone answering machine, when another man walked up to me, pointed a gun at my chest, and proceeded to take the $3 in my wallet and my brand new cell phone.
A couple of days later, my replacement phone arrived. This is the phone I've been using ever since. It's almost like I'm a widowed father, and my phone -- my constant companion -- is my only child... we were left alone when her mother, my original phone, was taken away from us so violently and tragically. I remember my cell phone's first scratch. The first bit of rubber bumber that stripped off. The first time I dropped it and the battery broke off. I know exactly where she'll lose reception, and exactly where she'll stop digitally roaming. We've been cross-country numerous times, and she works everywhere. Her address book holds ex-friends' numbers I can't bring myself to erase, and the names and numbers of girls I've gone on dates with. It's heard me wish Happy Birthday, get in arguments, console friends in times of need, and call the police after my second mugging at gunpoint. She's transmitted brief snippets of concerts to friends half a world away, and she's cut out during heated debates at just the right time -- when I was losing. That phone has pretty much been the instrumen that has, in some form or another, documented my entire Los Angeles life.
And now it's time to let her go. She's a black-and-white throwback in a color-screen world. She doesn't take pictures, and she's unable to text message. The battery stamina is getting very poor, and she's been forgetting to tell me some messages lately. She's beaten and battered. And she's tired.
So today I'm going to the store to look for her replacement. It's a cold-hearted act, but it's necessary. I suppose the good news is she won't be totally absent. She'll pass her number on to the next generation.