The PHONE call I wish for


6613 is the phone number of my childhood; a party line – you would pick up the phone not knowing who you would be listening to. Click!

By the time I am in nursing school, I call 2725690, using many quarters to ring my dad, sometimes a request for money, especially after discussing whether I could dismiss feeling guilty for buying a $100 dollar wedding dress, being from a lower middle-class family.

It was always my dad I could count on. Although my mother would drive my belongings to Cornell’s Nursing School in NYC and back home, it was dad who wrote precious weekly letters, not only about his research, or architectural design of Cornell’s Space Sciences building, but more so about his relationships with my brother and sister, or mom and grammy. Feelings even about his childhood self. And me.

America has evolved to area codes, using phone cards to call long distance, and me to imagining setting up a phone booth in NY City adorned with a large-lettered CRYING BOOTH, when in the nineties I began writing books to encourage healing through tears, our bodies natural way to let go of emotional and physical pain.

When my dad suddenly died of a heart attack in 1977, I tried to run away from my grief by running marathons, EVOLving into visits to his family still living in Germany. Phone calls to my aunt Resi, who only spoke German, me ein bisschen (a little.)

Now that Resi has died, my cousin Gabrielle becomes my closest connection to dad, from whom I recently requested the tape of his voice sent long ago to his cherished baby sister, Resi, whom he wrote weekly letters to for many years. It arrived a week ago in July of 2022. I want to hear his tender voice as if over the phone.