The crash itself was stereotypically spectacular: me, alone, in a hotel room, in a random American city, balling my eyes out.
Not your typical Sunday night for a university senior.
All day I had been battling a mental maelstrom including not placing as well as I had hoped at a prominent business competition, questioning my after graduation employment plans, wondering why I had sacrificed so many personal things for something so materialistic, doubting if this is what ‘success’ looked like, and if so, if I really wanted it anymore.
Most importantly, I hated that I couldn’t deal with this myself, and that if I actually needed to speak to someone about it, I didn’t know who to call. My crash didn’t come with an OnStar attendant at the other end asking if she could dispatch a career coach, a life coach, or just a tub of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate cookie dough – stat.
Part of it stemmed from not being able to remember if I had signed up for a long distance plan or not, and wondering if the lady at the front desk would be able to understand my query through my incessant tears. Part of it stemmed from my belief in stoicism and not wanting to let anyone see me down, and not being down in the first place. I’m a PLA after all! We, of all people, should be able to self-soothe our way out of just about anything stress related. Most of it stemmed from not wanting to talk about it because admitting what I was going through would mean I would actually have to face the music, and mute was looking pretty good right now.
Like an exploding suitcase, I attempted to pack all of my baggage back into wherever it was previously sitting. Today’s performance representing my school? Stuff under ‘lessons learned.’ After graduation employment plans? Jam beside ‘address once crystal ball goes mainstream.’ Not seeing as many family and friends as I would have liked in my last year of being a student ever? Can the ‘lessons learned’ pouch hold something that big?
Let’s be serious: carry-on zippers can only endure so much stress.
Steps away from giving myself a heart attack on the treadmill trying to run it out (I’d say run away but after the last melt down it’s not very satisfying running away from something when you are staying in one position) Steve called.
Steve has to be one of my best friends. He’s the type of guy who you meet for 5 minutes and it feels like 5 months. Since I’d known him for about a year, it seemed like a millennia
Poor Steve was just calling to say hi. It was one of those purposeless just call and catch up type dials.
I was lucky it was my digits he punched into his phone.
After the first hello, Steve knew something was wrong, and refused to get off the phone until I told him. He then sat there for a painstaking 20 minutes as I dumped everything on him and he talked me through it. As clichéd as it sounds (and you had to know it was going to be clichéd based on my opening line, right? I mean, something that starts off that stereotypical certainly can’t end with anything less than positively predictable) Steve’s call made all the difference.
I write this not purely for dramatic effect (although I hope that that may have happened so as to make my literary non-fiction professor proud) but to ask you: who’s call are you going to make?
In a world where emails, texting, and Facebook make instant communication a replacement for actual conversation, who have you actually spoken to? If Steve had texted me, emailed me, or IM-ed me, it likely wouldn’t have had the same effect. It’s too easily ignored and real emotions are too easily hidden.
A phone call? 9 times out of 10, they’re going to pick up and just be tone of voice you’ll know how they’re feeling.
It doesn’t need to be with a view of helping someone who you suspect is in trouble, or launching into a long-distance-plan-busting-marathon session with a long lost pal. Just think about who you haven’t spoken to recently, and give them a shout.
Life doesn’t come with OnStar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t check-in every so often to see how someone’s drive is going: whether to admire the scenery with them, or help them escape the wreckage.