Call Me…Maybe by Conlee Ricketts

I set my ringer to “Vintage,” turned off all my other phone alerts and went to bed. I had decided to try a day without texts, emails and social media. I announced on Facebook that if anyone needed me they would actually have to call me.

I knew my “absence from the world” would go unnoticed—it did. This wasn’t about trying to see if anyone missed me—they didn’t. It was about breaking a bad habit; a habit that has sprung from boredom and perhaps a bit of loneliness. I am talking about my habit of obsessively checking my phone far too many times during the day; checking it at every ding and constantly picking it up to read the “New Stories 10+” on Facebook whenever it gets a little too quiet.

The hardest part of this experiment was the day before. Once I made the decision my mind couldn’t stop imagining what it would feel like. How will I handle not scrolling my emails with my morning coffee hoping for that magic email that never comes—the one from a friend I haven’t heard from in awhile, or the one from an excited publisher that found an old article or an old short story in a drawer? What about my evening Facebook scrolls to entertain me during Disney Channel re-runs? Oh my—what about the text from my daughter saying she’s safely arrived at her friend’s house across the street? How would I know she’s safe??

“Uh, Mom, I will just call you instead,” Oh…yeah, the phone still works. It doesn’t have to be a text. How limited was my thinking? It takes a child to point out the obvious sometimes.

So after my pre-cold-turkey jitters settled I went to bed.

The day was fairly easy. It was quiet. I had to listen to the ramblings in my head; I talked out loud to myself and discussed artistic creativity with the dogs. I had only one crisis—a big one—that had me twitching like an addict. I think it was God testing my resolve.

I was using my computer, as a word processor of course, and I had just finished editing a future blog. All I had left to do was find that perfect picture I wanted to use. I plugged in my external hard drive to open a file of photos from our old computer—the Alien. I clicked on the folder marked “Pics from the Alien.”

It was EMPTY!

I clicked and clicked and clicked. My daughter’s entire childhood ages 0 to 7 gone! I had screwed up copying all the photos. Panic set in. A deep dark panic! I dug through drawers to find and open every flash drive I could find in the house just to see if I had another copy. I paced the house wanting to text my ex-husband to see if he had a back-up from the Alien. I wanted to text his girlfriend because I knew she would know the answer better anyway. She is the organized one. I didn’t want to call! I’d cry. I needed to text!

I paced some more, cried a little, took some slow breaths, and tried to remain calm and not hate myself too much for such a stupid mistake. How could I be that dumb? The voices in my head were screaming at me!

Finally I had a moment of clarity.

“Conlee,” I told myself, “If the photos are gone—truly gone—then guess what? They will still be gone in 24 hours. Don’t text.”

So I didn’t. I sat back down and let my imagination play the various lost photos in my head with surprisingly good detail. On my other flash drives I found new treasures that I didn’t realize I even had. Why haven’t I seen these pictures before? When was the last time I really looked at the hundreds of pictures that I do have on my computer?

The next day I texted my former husband and he texted back “I think so, yes” and I smiled. Of course in the back of my mind I was saying, “YOU THINK??? You think? But I gotta know now!” but I really didn’t. If they exist now somewhere on his computer then guess what? They will still exist 24 hours from now when he checks to make sure. Or 48 hours or 72…should I text him a reminder just to make sure he looks?

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  1. 2 Responses to “Call Me…Maybe by Conlee Ricketts”

  2. I loved this! I, too, have a habit of obsessively checking my phone and wanting to text. I wonder what it would feel like if I tried your experiment. Great writing!

    By Danielle Dragona on Oct 8, 2013

  3. Thanks! I don’t think I’ve made much progress breaking my habit though. I do stop and think a bit more at every ding…but I still go look so…

    By Conlee on Oct 11, 2013