I talk to my mom almost every day. I talk to my sister a lot too. If we ever go too long without talking one of them lays a guilt trip on me. That's fair ... it is most likely me that is not holding up my end of the bargain. I’m the weak link in the answering the phone chain and so comes the “gee we haven’t talked to you in a loooooooooooooong time” trip. It’s okay. I deserve it. The truth is they call and I don’t answer. They make the effort and I don’t respond. It’s a thing I do. Not as a punishment. It’s just that sometimes I’m not ready to talk – I mean at that moment when the phone is ringing. I’m not ready or willing and so I don’t answer. This is a very self-centered attitude, I know, because maybe they are calling to talk about THEM and not me. And maybe just because I’m not ready or willing to talk I could and should be ready and willing to listen. So really, how hard is it to pick up the phone when it rings?
Trust me. It is Very. Very. Hard.
But most of the time, we talk often. More than often … we talk a lot. Daily. When we’re on a roll, it is more than daily. Let’s just say I’ve changed my phone plan many times and finally crossed into “unlimited” because it was the only plan that was going to keep T-Mobile from joining forces with the Columbia House Representative.... you know what I'm talking about. Those daily phone calls are awesome. Some are long. Some short … and even though we talk multiple times a day, there are many times when I hang up and immediately have to call back.
Because I forgot to tell her something.
When you talk everyday, you have a lot to say. Somehow everything ranks. Everything is significant.
The Hub’s family doesn’t talk often. That’s their pattern. Sometimes they’ll go long stretches without talking. Like long. For real. Not like the 6 hour stretches that my mom considers long … “I called you before lunch, on the way to lunch, after lunch and then later when I was thinking about what I had for lunch and you didn’t answer any of those times. What’s wrong?” but REAL LIFE long stretches. Weeks. Months even.
They aren’t angry at each other.
They enjoy conversating when they do talk.
It’s just the way it is.
And the thing I’ve noticed is that even though they will go a long time, their conversations are no longer than my multi-daily conversations with my family members. In fact, at times, it seems like they have less to talk about. It seems like the less often they talk, the less they have to say.
And I guess that makes some sense. I mean, after a while, it’s hard to know what to say. It seems weird to talk about trivial stuff when you haven’t talked for so long. Once you’ve gone a week or so without talking, it seems silly to talk about what you might or might not have done for the weekend. Two weeks and your latest minor successes at work tend to fall by the wayside. A month and the only things worth talking about are serious health issues, serious career issues or serious weather issues.
It all kind of, sort of HAS to be serious.
Not posting for a little while has the same effect. Missing a day is forgivable. Expected even. Two days and the reader might not even notice. But once we hit a week – we’re getting into dangerous territory. What I had for lunch doesn’t seem to be worth writing about – especially since we all know it was Chick-fil-a. Suddenly what I write about feels like it has to matter. Once 10 days pass without a post that funny thing that happened on the way to the tattoo shop is sort of not so funny in that you had to be there sort of way and after a full two weeks I feel like I have to write the comeback post of all times or I will be hung by the cord of my own mouse.
I hate it when bloggers apologize for not writing for days and days. “I’m sorry I haven’t posted! Gosh I’ve been so busy what with blah blah and yadda going on. I promise I’ll do better.” It seems so self-centered. Believe me, blog writer, I’ve survived just fine without knowing what art supplies you’ve run out of and without hearing all the details about your dog’s ear surgery.
Now I’m sounding cynical.
I guess what I’m saying is that there is a habit to communicating … a pattern. And when that habit is broken, it is difficult at best to retrain the habit into habitualness again. When I write each day, I find significance in most things – the way the ground sloshes when it is thoroughly soaked with snow reminds me of my own saturation point and how I too get noisy when I reach it. The snow and ice on the Chicago streets and the stain the salt leaves behind on the legs of my jeans hints at the unseen dangers of those "safety measures" that are laid down in my path. The slow, almost plodding walk of the yellow Lab that lives down the block warms my heart and reminds me of the slow pace of old farm dogs and old farmers I knew when I was growing up. And the difficultly getting a contractor to call me back reminds me that those guys are real sons of bitches. That’s not significant, that’s just fact.
But when I go without writing for a stretch, nothing seems to be important. Lessons lie unlearned. I hear only hollow honking when the geese fly by and see nothing significant about their presence in the middle of winter. When I run out of ink in my highlighter and have no pen in my purse and have to instead memorize the most significant things about an article on the plane I see it as a nuisance and not an opportunity. And when the small bright-faced group of teenagers bundled in scarves and puffy coats in the park hold up hand-made multi-colored signs that read “FREE HUGS” I see nothing beautiful and instead mutter “weirdos” under my breath.
And so I come back to writing.
Because I don’t want to be that girl.