I recently joined the 21st century and bought the iphone 4s. My kids were elated. Christopher immediately set up Siri and had her address me as “Alpha Mama.” He thought that was hilarious. I made him change it to my first name.
I enjoy having a smart phone but I’ve only taken advantage of a few things. I rarely use Siri but I do like her measured, unflappable tone. Years ago, when I worshipped my idea of the perfect mother, I think she would have sounded a bit like Siri.
Eden was with me in the car a couple weeks ago when I asked Siri to look something up and she couldn’t.
“Ugh!” I said.
“Frankly, Alison, I feel the same way.”
“This is stupid!” I said. It was ridiculous that this program could respond with humor but couldn’t fulfill this simple request.
“You’re certainly entitled to that opinion.” Siri said.
I put that phrase in my back pocket. With two teens, and an almost tween, that was gold.
The other day I said, “Call home.”
“Which home?” Siri asked. ‘Home’ or ‘Harmon Home’?”
“Home.” I repeated.
“You have two phone numbers for contacts named ‘Home.’ Which one should I use?
I glanced down and saw the numbers to the two rental houses we lived in after the fire. I haven’t written about the first rental that we lived in for just three months. I’ll get there eventually, just know that things didn’t go well.
The numbers themselves are a bad memory. After the fire, we forwarded our calls to Paul’s sister’s house, where we stayed the first six weeks. When we moved to the first rental I tried to transfer the number. Our kids had lost everything and it became important to me to keep that number, to maintain one, literal line of consistency for them. I spent hours on the phone, I talked to so many people at Comcast, for nothing. They couldn’t or wouldn’t let us keep the number.
In protest I never used our landline. Up until the fire, I rarely gave out my cell number, it was for my use, but afterwards, I used it exclusively and gave it out freely. And yet I thought, once we moved back to the new house, I had entered our home number, but I clearly hadn’t and I’d never bothered to remove either of the rentals.
It is strange what triggers sorrow. Regardless of how far down the road we might be, how over something we think we are, there are still the small things that flare and, if for only a moment, flame and then burn out.
I saw these numbers and was surprised. I felt the visceral pain in my stomach and a lump formed in my throat.
“I couldn’t understand what you said, Alison.”
“Call Paul.” I said.
And she did—without a question—as if she knew that Paul is, first and always, home for me.