The Boyfriend and I drove to Kansas City this weekend, and we listened to one of my favorite podcasts - This American Life. It's always wildly interesting. The one we listened to was about a man in the small Japanese town of Otsuchi who bought an old telephone booth and put it in his backyard. He painted it white and put a black telephone on the shelf. And he used it to speak to his relatives that he lost in the giant tsunami in 2011. A wind phone, he called it. He used it for casual conversations. "How are you." "I miss you." "This is what I've done this week."
But that's not the most interesting thing.
The interesting thing here is that people found out about the man's telephone booth and they started to come. They walked into the booth, shut the door behind them, picked up the unconnected phone, and dialed the number for homes that were washed away in the wave.
The podcast talked about how many just spoke normally. Filling in loved ones on lives that have moved ahead past them, and ending with a "until next time". A very few ask the hurting questions. The where are you, the I miss you, the why did this have to happen to you ... The desperation was palpable - clawing at the walls of the tiny space, filling in all of the cracks and slipping under the paint chips.
Behind all of the words. Behind all of the tears. Behind all of the shaking hands picking up a cold phone. The same sentiment prevailed.
I miss you.
I miss you.
I miss you.
I got lost somewhere in the middle and started thinking about how this wind phone business relates to my own life. This physical action of speaking to people that have gone. This physical act of walking into a booth, knowingly picking up a phone that isn't connected to anything, and waving your hand in the breeze as you speak to no one on the other side.
The people that came out of the booth were interviewed for the purpose of the podcast and they felt ... better. Lighter.
In some sense, the verbalizing. The speaking. The physical release of their words into the world budged the brick of grief for them a little farther away. Anyone listening can easily read between the mundane Tuesday conversations. Anyone can see the black and white here-it-is.
This is healing.
A long time ago - during what was probably the hardest years of her life - my mom was given a doll made out of an old, worn chenille bedspread. It was warm, soft. And it had no mouth. The woman that gifted the doll to my mom told her that she could talk to the doll - because she was for listening.
When I went through my own divorce, my mom gave me the same kind of doll. It sits in my closet and I see it every morning when I get dressed. It's chenille soft. It's flowers a dull pink.
The idea is that you cast off your worries - tell them all to this doll and she'll just ... listen.
There are these tiny little dolls from Guatemala - smaller than my pinky. Usually, they're crafted from wood, and as legend goes - you take the dolls out of the pouch. As many as you need. Five. Two. Ten.
And on nights when you can't sleep.
When your worries are oppressive on your heart.
And every time you close your eyes, the tension creeps up your neck.
You tell your worry to the doll and then put it under your pillow.
During the night, the "worry doll" absorbs your concerns and you sleep. And when you wake up in the morning - your heart is lighter.
I had a ridiculous week at school. And when I say "a ridiculous week at school" - I basically mean that last week was one of the Top Ten Worst of Becky's Career. And while I can't tell you anything about it (sorry to be that girl), I can tell you that the only thing that helped -
The only thing that made it any better.
Was the purge.
Telling my mom all about it.
Explaining the whole thing to The Boyfriend backwards and forwards and then backwards again.
The crying at the desk of our truancy officer and with my poor daycare lady that didn't know what hit her.
I once saw a pretty quote on Pinterest that said that our greatest habit is speaking about our problems and that instead, we need to speak more about our joys.
How about we verbalize it all more?
How about we talk more about how we miss our mommas and daddies when they're gone? How about we talk more about our worries? The big ones? The ones that choke us in the middle of the night, the ones that cause nightmares, the ones that cause us to buy old phone booths and track down discarded telephones and the ones that beg us to speak.
To someone that isn't even there.
How about we turn to Our People and we tell them.
"You tell me your biggest, baddest worry. You tell me your biggest, hugest gaping hurt. And I'll listen. I'll hear you. You don't need a doll. You don't need a piece of wood under your pillow. And you don't need a glass booth in the middle of a back yard."
How about we tell Our People,
"Me. Right here. Me. I'll be right here to listen to you."
And you know what? How about we mean it?
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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