The Dangling Conversation (Simon & Garfunkel)

Quarantine has brought out the worst in my conversational skills. Having considerably fewer opportunities for actual, in person conversation and too much time spent alone, in my head, talking to myself, I’ve lost touch with the art of conversation. I find my excitement to be talking to someone outside my tiny circle leaves me tongue-tied or over-anxious to speak, thus interruptive.

As life started to open up a bit more and I’m socializing with a somewhat broader group of friends, I notice the decline of my communicative finesse. I catch myself interrupting, or worse, getting caught up in my head, having internal chat with myself. It has become a frequent cause of upset with my husband, which doesn’t make the 24/7 we continue to spend together exactly blissful.

As much a I am content on my own, I have always treasured friend (and family) time. Sharing an evening with a dear friend, enjoying a long, lingering meal and endless conversation is one of my most favorite ways to recharge. I love nothing more than to get lost in a conversation that weaves to and fro with twists and turns that eventually lead back to the beginning. It confounds my husband that these conversations seem never-ending.

Back in the day of landlines, I’d spend hours on the phone with school friends, doing our homework “together”, dreaming of boys we wanted to kiss, places we wanted to go, which lipglosses were the best (Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper!), and back to boys (of course). Those silly, intimate, protracted conversations are in part what our friendships were built upon. They filled out the gaps in the day to day hanging out and chatting. They connected us in ways that still hold true today. To this day the girls I hung out with, some since age nine, the rest since middle school, remain among my dearest. We still see each other, still share cherished memories, and still have silly, intimate, protracted conversations over forty years later.

With shared conversations being something that I relish, the fact that I’m noticing the regression in my conversational dexterity after these seemingly endless months of semi-isolation leaves me feeling a bit anxious to be back in more social settings. Though I hope that the increase of practice will have a positive impact and bring me back to good graces before I’m lost inside my head for good!

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