Earlier this week, Karl and I were outside and needed to get Lucy and Peter’s attention. They were just inside the front door sitting on the living room couch. So, we did what any timesaving, energy-efficient parents would do. We texted them and told them to come to the front window.
Afterwards, I looked at Karl sadly and said, “Gone are the days when you had to throw pebbles at someone’s window to get their attention.” I proceeded to tell him about the time in high school when my best friend, Summer, came to my house early on a Saturday morning and threw pebbles at my second-story bedroom window. That weekend, she was going on a holiday with her parents and needed to get back her rollerblades that I had borrowed. This was circa 1994 and neither of us had cellphones. And she was conscientious enough not to call the house that early in the morning and wake anyone else up. So, instead, she did a Summer-Sort-of-Thing and came calling to my window with small stones. I woke up to the sun shining in my window and Summer on the ground looking up, wishing and hoping I would hear her. Thankfully, I did, and she was able to quickly and quietly retrieve her rollerblades.
It was a simple gesture, to be sure. Yet, in its simplicity, a magical memory was created. Unlike the time where I had asked Kathy to pick me up on her way down south to Travis’ house. Everyone we knew was going over there for a party and I wasn’t old enough yet to drive. Kathy and I were the only ones of our friends who lived north of Hwy 285. So, frequently, she swung by my house on the way to just about anywhere and picked me up and gave me a ride.
On that particular night, I had a hankering to listen to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” as loudly as possible. It was a rare evening when no one else was in my home; my mom and dad were out, and so was my brother, Nathan. Amazingly, there wasn’t anyone to tell me to turn my music down.
So really, what better way to preen oneself for an evening out than listening to Madonna at full volume?
Unfortunately, when Kathy did arrive, she knocked on my front door, banged on the downstairs bathroom window and peeked her head over the back fence. She heard the music, but could not get my attention. That would have been a nice time for her and I both to have had cell phones and for texting to have existed. Because, it wasn’t until much later that evening, long after which I thought she should have been by, that I turned Madonna down and heard the phone ring. She had driven all the way out to Travis’ house and used his home phone to contact me and let me know she’d already been by. After I apologized profusely, Kathy graciously came all the way back to pick me up. I promised her that Madonna and I would quietly await her arrival this time.
Whether by magic or mishap, I’m grateful I grew up in a time where meetings were in person. Where people came and knocked on your front door to tell you they were there to pick you up. Where you had to walk to a friend’s house and crash on their couch and watch Soul Asylum sing Runaway Train on MTV because your mom thought you didn’t get out of practice for another two more hours. Where you dropped by the mall just to see if the boy you liked was working in the food court. Where on a regular basis you surprised or were surprised by someone’s presence.
So, I guess if I had to Say Anything, it would be that John Cusack’s character got it right when below an open window, he held a boom box over his head and in one iconic image, conveyed something that we might never read in a text or even hear in a phone call. His presence, just like yours and mine, bears an indescribable, yet poignant message that can’t be communicated any other way except face to face.