I have almost twenty saved messages on my phone. I don't know why, but I do. So today, since I am alone in the office with, quite literally, absolutely nothing to do, I figured I'd go through them and clean up my mailbox a bit.
I spent the last twenty or so minutes with the speakerphone on, listening to all of the messages I chose to save for one reason or another. I smiled the whole time.
A while back, I wrote about saving messages from friends and near-boyfriends that remind me that there are people out there who think I'm fabulous, even when I'm feeling not-so-fabulous about myself. I never really listened to them, but I knew they were there...Just in case.
Those messages are still there (except for the one from the near-boyfriend. That one got erased just before my first date with Billy), but there are a bunch of new selections for me to choose from. Most - actually, honestly, almost all - of them are from Billy. He calls me sexy, he tells me to hurry home, he jokingly asks why I haven't answered his phone call and wonders into my voicemail if perhaps I've slipped and fallen in the shower and proceeds to instruct me to take my cell phone with me into the shower if I can't be trusted to keep my balance. He tells me he's thinking about me, that he hopes my day is going well. It's like saving Hallmark greeting cards, but better.
In one series of messages, left in October, Billy called three times to remind me that he still likes me. He laughed as he concluded, "Just so that there's no misinterpretation, I like you. Not, I only like you, or I just like you, but that I liiiike you, like you. Okay?" With that, he paused and then continued in a business-man tone: "I hope that clears up any confusion there may be about the issue, and have a lovely evening."
Listening to that message today, I laughed out loud. And I remembered a conversation we had about a month ago, about saying the L-Word.
"I knew you'd never say it first," he told me, stretched out under the covers.
"What? Meeee? Why?" I shrieked in mock horror at the notion that I wouldn't say it first. He and I both knew that was the truth. I never have said it first...Too scary.
"Oh please," he rolled his eyes. "There was no way you'd say it first. With as worried as you were about me breaking your heart? C'mon."
"So what made you decide to say it?" I goaded. I curled up close to him, in an effort to make him get sentimental with me.
Again, his eyes rolled. "I don't know," he said. He hates discussing things like this, and I knew it. But The Girl in me couldn't resist asking.
"Oh, come on."
"I don't know," he repeated. "I just wanted to. I wasn't sure when I would, though."
"You know, 'is it too early?' Things like that. I talked to my cousin about it."
"You did?" I was positively bursting with joy over his discussing loving me with a family member. "What did you say?"
"I just asked him, 'whaddya think? Should I tell her?'"
"And what did he say?"
"He said 'How long have you been together?' and I said 'Three months.' And he said 'No, don't say it yet.'"
"What?" The shriek was not in mock horror this time.
Billy laughed at my reaction. "But I think I came home that night and told you. I had to. I'd been thinking it for a while. I fought off saying it as long as I could."
Thinking about that conversation today, and listening to that message, it occurred to me that, perhaps, he already loved me when he reminded me that he liked me. And perhaps I already knew it, too.
The final message in my long list of saved messages was from him, too. It was left on August 5, 2005 at 2:30 in the afternoon. He was calling to confirm our first date, the time, our rendez-vous point. His voice sounded deep and sexy and new, even listening to it today. I remembered how giddy it made me feel, how excited I was to see him. I remembered imagining holding his hand, kissing him goodnight. I saved it then, for some reason. Perhaps I knew, before we even began, that something there was worth saving.