"You have three saved messages," the mechanical woman on my cell phone tells me. "To hear your messages, press one."
Very rarely do I ever actually press one, but doing so would take me to three messages that I've been accumulating for almost a year:
One from an almost-boyfriend.
One from my best friend.
One from a then-new friend.
The Almost-Boyfriend message was left mere days after we met in a bar. A string of late night conversations had proved promising pre-relationship flirtation, and he called my phone while he was on the road. His voice, through Verizon's crackly reception, told me that he couldn't stop thinking about me and how happy he was to have met me. He told me he was thinking of when he would get to see me next, of trips we could take together in the future. We went on one wonderful date, but ultimately it didn't work; Long distance relationships rarely do. And I'm not quite sure why I'm saving the message...But listening to it again reminds me that it is possible to be excited about a date. That I'm an impressive lady, regardless of how discouraged I can get.
The Best Friend message was left when I went to Dominique's wedding by myself. Pollo told my voicemail that she hoped I "eat a lot, drink a lot and dance a lot." She wished that I have a great time and that I call her the following morning to tell her all about it. The message was sweet by itself because she was thinking of me...But my reason for saving it was the way she closed the message. "Okay, friend. I love you. Bye." When I heard the click of her phone, I immediately replayed the message, unsure if I'd really heard what I thought I did. But sure enough, there it was: I love you. It's something that Pollo doesn't say often or take lightly. I know that she doesn't say those words because it's a sweet way to sign off. She only says them if she feels them. Listening to that message in a hotel room by myself in Long Island, I got teary eyed. And I saved it, to listen to whenever I feel like being reminded that someone loves me.
The message from a Then-New Friend is like a mix between the two prior messages. I met this man on a Friday night in Milford, and the second we exchanged names we formed a bond. He started telling people we were Eharmony matches. That we're "BFFs!" That if he were interested in women, he'd be totally interested in me. "Since I can't get married to the man of my dreams - well, you know, except for in Vermont - I was so happy to meet the female equivalent of him" he says in the message. "So my days of thinking I'd never have a beautiful bride - or become one myself - are now over. And, I know it's kind of tacky to do this in a voicemail message...but...would you marry me? Of course, we both get boyfriends on the side." The message makes me laugh like crazy, but it also whispers See that, Laurie? He only just met you, and he thinks you're amazing.
I know it's silly to keep them. And I only listen to them when they're "marked for deletion," after thirty days. I guess I like knowing they're there, those three little mementos. And when I need to hear a friendly voice, I know I can just hit the number one.