In Good Conversation


Listening to the Inspiration of the Muse – Aman Jean Edmond Hesiod

I’m not the best conversationalist.

I’m not sure when or how it happened.  Perhaps years of relating to people by text in virtual communities, writing myself into debates or conversations where the polite pause is naturally built in by the feed of the real time display.  It’s hard to interrupt people in an IM chat.  It just kind of… flows.

After January of 2011 I really pulled into myself.  I saw some family members sometimes, but my life moved forward as a single person and I slid back into a mode of relating to people online by preference.  You see, there are tools online that you don’t get in real life.  An ex-boyfriend won’t leave you alone? You can ban/mute/block them from further conversation with you in digital domains.  Someone trolling you on their blog?  That part takes some discipline.  In time you learn the psychology of trolling (or let’s be frank, bullying) and stop looking.  You stop feeding a behavior that is fueled by your reaction.

Get into an IM conversation with me and I am a brilliant conversationalist.  I have been doing it since 1995.   Did I mention I met my first husband on an mIRC chat channel?  Geek speaks to geek, followed by a date with too much hot chocolate.  I like people who like technology.  I like people who are smart. Most of those people are easily found online.   And I like the control of online relationships.  I am not the best judge of character and so, using their words only (or sometimes live VOIP chat) I can … try to profile them.  Understand them through their words, rather than their appearance, facial expressions, clothing, occupation or in person demeanor.

Somehow in my bent toward online social media and IM communication, I think I may have lost some skills.  I interrupt people when I talk (but I don’t mean to).  I find it hard to manage my ADHD when collaborating on creative topics.  My husband calls it “full throttle” which is consistent with virtually everything I seem to do.  See it. Like it. Try it. Jump in arms and legs and ask questions later.  Impulsive? Yep.  Apologetic? Not really … I think I see, do and experience more in life that way.

But I notice I dominate conversations.   And that bothers me because… I love people.  I don’t always understand them, or trust them.  I find it hard to get a read on people and frankly, some people scare the heck out of me either through their lack of conscience and responsibility, or malice.   But I love being around people.   The nice kind anyhow.  I enjoy hearing about their lives and perspectives; experiences and tribulations.  I love people that “get dirty” in life, unafraid to mess up, make mistakes while moving forward.   It’s the “perfect” peeps that scare the shit out of me, to be honest.

I miss my best friend.  There is this like… handful of people I love and respect that I just want to be close to.  Live on the same street with. Sit in the same room and drink tea.  Ask me how much I want to sit in my sisters backyard right now, or how much I long to smell my Godparent’s kitchen right now, or be bouncing my new little cousin Daniel on my leg.  Ask me how much I’d kill to be walking down Bloor Street right this second, with some fancy high heel pinching shoes and Diane and Rahila with me, for some ‘cheeseburger’ sushi at New Generation Sushi. Or walking through a horse barn (even if I had to muck stalls) with someone I care deeply about in New York.

I’m dying for a tall columbian with two black eyes coffee from Second Cup.  Five sugars.

There are wonderful weekends like the one that just passed, where my social calendar is full.  I loved sitting with Kevin’s cousin Jamie and just talking, with the smokey campfire raging out back of their house and the kids chasing each other around.  Beer in hand, talking about cool things and small business, family holiday’s and plans for our dream home.    It was so nice.  I felt human.   I am the least ‘girly’ girl in Kevin’s family and I always feel like I don’t belong, but sometimes lately, I feel like I am starting to.  And that’s really good because  I need that feeling.    That rooted feeling of belonging.

I had a lovely conversation with someone last night that left me feeling the same way.  She’s a professional, very intelligent and a writer.   And instead of me wanting to impress her or “blah blah” the way I do when I like someone, I did the unthinkable; I listened.  I wanted to listen to her.  Learn from her.  Understand how she views the world.   Talk less and listen more, not only to be polite and better company but… to learn more?

We didn’t talk about anything mind blowing really … I enjoyed both the sound of her voice and the things she shared.  I find her fascinating, humble and terribly interesting.  As I moved things around the virtual environment my heart smiled because I realized I was getting far more from the social engagement by listening, than by talking.

You know for most of my life I’ve been surrounded by severe introverts. And when you are, sometimes you are thrust into the role and expectation as an entertainer.  You jump on the stage and into a leadership role you don’t want, creating the conversation, engaging the conversation and making sure that everyone is having a good time.  Leaders do this.  Extroverts do this.   But few people have ever asked in the melee of entertainment and ruckus if “I” was having fun.   And the ones that did… really saw me for who I am.   A woman who shoulders the leadership role in the vacuum of that role being assumed by anyone else, and always reluctantly.  Our marriage works because I am not the only leader in the house, and I don’t always have to be one.  Sometimes, I can just sip my coffee and listen.

And just be myself, in good conversation without having to prove anything to anyone.  To just simply “be”.

Someone else can be the center of attraction or the headliner.  I am not competing with anyone.  I am not judging anyone, nor do I think I have my own path figured out yet.  But if we are in conversation and I pull back and ask questions, or simply listen, please don’t ask me “what’s wrong?”   Chances are I am really quietly happy and listening these days, instead of talking.