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20:03 - Friday, Oct. 23, 2015
called China
Tonight I just picked up my cell phone and called China. I didn't even have to dial any numbers. I just picked up the phone, swiped right, touched the phone icon, and then touched a name, a name with a helpful picture next to it even, to aid me in remembering who I was calling, just in case, what with my hundreds of contacts and all, I'd forgotten who all my friends were unless they had pictures next to their names. I touched the name and the phone started ringing. It rung eight times, and without interference, presumably it would have rung indefinitely. China doesn't do answering machines.

But if he had picked up, the delay would have been just vaguely noticeable, a spark of irritation when our first sentence words and last sentence words overlapped. The sound quality would have been no worse than a shoddy quality YouTube video. And we could have talked for hours and have it cost rather less than a dollar. We did, last week.

Twenty years ago, I sat cross legged on the floor of my family's sun room, having shooed them all out for maximum privacy. This was the result of a months-long campaign. I had spend the time begging my parents to allow me to call China, and offering up weeks of allowance as a contribution. My best friend moved there after fourth grade, and our expensive airmail letters often crossed in the three week gaps it took them to cross the Pacific, leaving us unable to have a back-and-forth. Being able to call her was a ridiculous ordeal. We had to math out the time difference, and somehow, through our three-weeks-slow letters, coordinate being home at the same time. We also had to let our parents do the actual dialing, because apparently there was an operator involved. I don't know. All I know is that after we connected, her voice was so fuzzy and delayed and faint that we could hardly understand each other, and we hung up after a few minutes, disappointed and with parents haranguing us on both ends.

Eight years ago, my family had to call me at work in Indonesia because there was no phone at the teachers' house. The delay was so atrocious, a 6 second conversation-destroyer, that there was really no point. They'd stay up late to do it just to hear me say I was alive while they asked me if I was alive at the exact same time. And this was the not-so-distant past, remember. Recently enough that I wrote about it in a diary that's actually newer than this one.

So the fact that I called China today, as though it were the next town over, tickled my mind a bit as I listened to the phone-ringing sound over and over and over.


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