Over the weekend, I had an interesting chat about chatting.
What we talk about with others.
How we handle social situations.
I’ll admit to getting a little anxious in big groups, and sometimes I feel like I have “nothing to say” — or nothing interesting to say, anyway. Because I write a personal newspaper column, most of my “good” stories become fodder for my work. It may not seem tough to write a measly 450 words twice a week, y’all, but trust me: it gets challenging.
Sometimes I sit around in my pajamas and eat cookie butter out of a jar. Other times Spencer and I watch “Manhattan” and surf eBay and hang around drinking coffee, then do some laundry or pull weeds or whatever. All necessary tasks — but not exactly compelling.
When my sister and I had the chaos of planning two weddings last year, we always had something to talk about. Joint bridal planning is a unique brand of chaos that provided constant conversation with everyone we knew for a solid year, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t milk that for all it was worth.
(I did. I know I did.)
Regarding social occasions, I find that so much we want to share with others — IRL, if you will — has already been “shared” elsewhere. We post photos of vacations on Facebook; share milestones on Twitter; Instagram the heck out of an awesome meal. By the time we actually see someone, they’re well aware of what we’ve been doing and eating and thinking about.
For me, there’s another component: because I blog. And beyond that, friends may read my column and have already “heard” everything cool going on in my world.
I’ve gotten kind of used to this. It is what it is. The fact of the matter is, you know, I’m kind of boring; I only do so many “interesting” things in a day. And when I get together with folks I haven’t seen in a while, there aren’t always that many fascinating anecdotes to relay.
And that’s okay. It doesn’t matter.
Because sometimes? It’s enough to just be together. Without iPhones, without Facebook, without Gchat. It’s enough to sit and drink a cold beer on a friend’s new deck and blow bubbles with a 3-year-old and all watch the sun go down. To brush mosquitoes away from each other’s legs, hold up a beer and mouth “Another?” and laugh about silliness from five years ago — because we can.
I haven’t had a large crew of friends since high school, back when we bonded through theatre in the way that only in-the-trenches teens can. As an adult, I was folded into a large group of friends via my brother-in-law and sister — and my husband was been welcomed, too. I’m so grateful for all of them.
Maybe our conversations are about work, or houses, or children . . . maybe a little travel, if we’re lucky, or movies we’ve seen. Plans we have. Food we’ve made. Or money because, you know, we all only have so much of it; budgeting has become a common talking point.
I’ve learned from them. Been comforted by them. And even if it’s not all groundbreaking stuff, it’s more than enough for a group of twenty-somethings who have ushered in many life phases together. Though I didn’t meet the crew until we were all out of college and making our young way into the world, I’ve known them all longer than I’ve known my own husband.
It’s good, really — to look out at a porch now filled with newborns and toddlers, friends who have moved away and come back, those of us who have coupled up and married and now throw bashes in new spaces. We can’t all get together without mentioning how “things have changed,” often jokingly and innocently . . . because they have. Change is everywhere. It fills the cracks of every conversation.
But that change feels good, too — solid, real, reassuring. As we enter different phases at different times, we lend support and camaraderie. One couple actually bought their house the day before we did, and we’ve bonded over unpacking and adulthood in new ways.
Things change. Things stay the same.
And when we talk, we make the words matter.