When A Pay Phone Call Changes Your Life


There’s something about living in the house that you grew up in that’s unexplainable.

It’s amazing and wonderful and poignant all at the same time. It’s like you are living in the middle of a new chapter, and yet? You can see all the chapters that have gone before and know that there are new chapters just around the corner.

Each room has a thousand stories.

Each room has a thousand steps.

And sometimes? Every so often?

You open a dutch door with brass hardware and an Easter wreath you made last year with the cutest buffalo-checked eggs.

And right then?

Right there.

In the middle of an ordinary day…

….something happens that reminds you of all the steps you have taken before.

Last week I had an argument with my husband.


It was over nothing.

It was silly.

And ridiculous.

But as most silly-ridiculous-arguments-over-nothing go sometimes, it started small and ended with frustration and hurt feelings and he left for work without it being resolved. My husband is a hospital pharmacist and he’d been called in for extra shifts and he’s been working a lot lately and five minutes after he walked out the door?

I realized I was wrong.

Really wrong.

And I missed him.

I stared at the dutch door that had just closed behind him as tears welled up in my eyes. And in that moment? I remembered something.

I remembered those same feelings with the same tears staring at that same door all those years ago.

The day he left for boot camp.

We had broken up because he was leaving for the Navy. So he stopped by the house one more time on his way to boot camp in Orlando to say goodbye and let me know he was leaving.

I stood at this exact dutch door on January 3 at 6:30am in the morning and hugged him tight and wished him well and waved goodbye and told him to have a wonderful life.

I thought I would never see him again.

He was nice and sweet and kind with twinkling brown eyes, but you see my friend…

….I broke up with him because I had big plans.


I was 21 and single with a prairie skirt and high heels with lace socks.

Watch out world.

And as he walked through this dutch door, he turned back to wave at me before he got into the truck. Then he smiled the smile I knew so well and as his eyes twinkled one last time for me….

…my heart gave a little leap.

But I ignored it.

You see I didn’t have time for distractions or boot camps or sailors or twinkling eyes.

I had plans.

So my plans and my prairie skirt and I returned to college. We clicked our high-heeled-lace-socked pumps together and scheduled dates and parties and tail-gating events and barbeques and moonlit walks by the river.

And it was fun.

For a while.

Until I heard a joke or a funny story or had a fashion emergency or received an A on a test or came up with a brilliant idea that only a pair of twinkling eyes would understand.

I tried to ignore it.

I tried to shake it off.

I tried to remember my plans.

But I couldn’t.

So I distracted myself with long phone calls to my mother and brownie fudge sundaes and episodes of Oprah.

Bless my heart.

And somewhere between 27 bites of chocolate and the Phil Donahue show and Oprah lugging in a giant wagon full of lard…..

….I realized I was still in love.


I was in love with a sailor.

A sailor I’d already said goodbye to.

A sailor I’d just broken up with.

A sailor who was currently halfway across the country at boot camp without a single solitary means of communication.

Back then it was different.

There wasn’t a cell phone or an e-mail or the internet or any way to tell someone that you were silly and you had totally changed your mind and you never wanted to be away from them again and you were totally, absolutely, positively 100% in love with them.

So I waited.

And waited.

Weeks went by and then a month and a half later the phone rang.

A pair of brown eyes twinkled from the pay phone at the other end.

It was my sailor.

And he told me he had waited an hour in line to call me from the pay phone at boot camp and he only had five minutes and he knew I was probably busy….

but he missed me.


The girl with the big plans.

He missed…

I said nothing.

I couldn’t.

I wanted to, but I was sobbing.

So my heart spoke for me.

And right then on a cold gray spring morning on a pay phone with a tender note in his voice, a twinkling-eyed sailor told a girl he loved her…..

…..and she told him she loved him right back.

PS  Ten minutes after this dutch door closed?

My phone rang.

It was my husband.

He called to tell me he missed me and I told him I missed him way more and that I was wrong and what was I thinking and that I was sorry and silly and ridiculous.

And that when he walked back through this dutch door tonight?

I’d be there.

Just like all those years ago.

Waiting with open arms. 🙂

PPS Happy Easter friends. If you are interested in making a DIY Easter wreath like this one? Here are all the instructions.

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