Tokyo is the land of cell phones. When you get on the train or subway, almost everyone you see is engrossed in their cell phones - writing emails, browsing, gaming, listening to music. You don't often see much need for the public payphone.
However, there are two instances of "payphone" that vividly stand out in my memory -
1) When I first came to Tokyo and didn't have a cell phone for about a week. I had to insert change into the public phones scattered around the city in order to contact my company and my friends. I did have a profound sense of relief after finally getting my cell phone, as though it were a life line to the world.
2) Right after the March 11, 2011 earthquake shook the city, I emerged from the subway to find long lines of people forming around payphone booths. They were waiting to call their loved ones, since their cell phones weren't working. I remember the sense of urgency and disorientation, and the feeling of just wanting to get home.
"I'm at a payphone, trying to call home
all of my change, I spent on you"
Covering the song "Payphone" by Maroon 5, I felt a certain sense of connection. This song talks about spending change, which I also interpret as emotional change - this person put their heart and soul into trying to get through to someone, to communicate and find understanding, to the point of nearly emptying all the "change" they had. It's not easy to start earning and saving up again in your heart, little by little.
"I know it's hard to remember
the people we used to be"
People always change in relationships, and the changes are caused by time, distance, growth, success, loss, choices... sometimes you start out as two parallel lines, almost touching, but then run outward and away toward separate directions. And sometimes, you start out far apart, then slowly and gradually flow together onto the same path.
"You say it's too late to make it
but is it too late to try?"
What does it take to bring two people together again? When one side has already seemingly given up, how can you tell if it's worth it to try again, and how much of yourself would you have to give to do so? It's always scary and takes courage to reach out unconditionally.
These are some of the meanings I found in this song. I hope it also makes you think about where you are in your relationships and levels of communication with your family, friends, and loved ones.
In order to open up the gates of communication again, sometimes it only takes one email, one chat message... one call.