There are several things I hope to talk about, in regard to the month long road trip I finished two days ago. The one foremost on my mind right now, has to do with conversations, and time spent, with several people I had never met before.
The first one was a man, a client I have been working with, from a distance, for a few weeks now. He is a self-professed Chatty Cathy, has gotten carried away in phone conversations a few times, and invariably said I don’t know why I am telling you all this as he shared about his job history, family, health, and whatever else came to mind in the moment.
This connection has been both interesting, and concerning because I have major trust issues with men, issues that have been growing steadily over the last decade or so as I face the deeply buried truth of my early life (a conversation for another day). It’s fairly easy to be relaxed hiding behind the anonymity of a telephone conversation but a face to face conversation is another story. Would my triggers create an awkward situation in the meeting I knew would happen soon?
Thankfully, he was as respectful and easy to talk to in person as he was on the phone. I felt relaxed and our conversation was honest and natural. He was still a Chatty Cathy and still had occasion to say – I don’t know why I am telling you all this. It would do my ego good if I had the idea he shared because he thought highly of me, but I knew that wasn’t it. I think the truth simply was – I was willing to listen.
The second person was the waitress in a Husky Restaurant. It was a small town on my way home and it was getting close to closing time when I stopped for lunch. There were several tables of local boys having coffee and the rest of the tables were empty. I took a seat at a table near them and after a time of quiet, their conversations returned to the easy relaxed way of friends. The seasoned waitress seemed to be the instigator of many conversations, that was her thing.
Usually I have my protective walls firmly in place and don’t easily engage in conversation but things have changed on this trip. As I went to the cash register to pay my bill I decided to attempt a few comments, to open the door a little, and what followed was a full on conversation about the town, her family, jobs, commutes, and the first trip in 40 years to the next big city. We would have talked longer but she had to finish closing up.
The last person was the desk clerk when I stopped for the night. It seemed to be a slow night for her and she wanted to talk. We talked about her weight problem and all of her concerns, which were many, around that subject. I learned a lot about her family and their health issues. We talked about living in the country while working in town and the things you have to do to make that work. The last subject we explored had to do with recycling and the inventiveness of her father in using everything and anything as building material. Other guests were looking for her attention several times and I finally took the opportunity to slip away, I had to go – if you catch my drift. I came away from the conversation feeling bad, and I still do, because she obviously didn’t want me to leave, and seemed to feel deserted when I did.
I can relate to the way she feels. It is not often we find someone willing to take time to listen to us. Many of us seem to be starving with the need for a listening ear.
Then, there are two little people who come to mind in regard to connection. I’ve noticed their unique need many times over the years and make a special effort when I meet little ones. Probably because I remember being that age, somewhere in the buried memories.
The two little boys are 4 and 6. A great nephew and a grandson, visited in different towns. Eye contact seems to be the key to connection for kids, they don’t do deep conversations but have a need to know they have been seen. I had a good time connecting with both of them.
He has my undivided attention while we are trying to give mommy space to get some things done. It was an unconventional layout for a train track but, hey, we were having fun. Pretty much everything in the room has a function, he remembers what it is all for and explained in detail as we explored one of the bins. The mattress behind him is his dual function trampoline/punching bag. Grandma got to hold the punching bag upright while he practiced his Ninja kicks and chops. It was a challenge but I managed to stay upright myself through it all.