Tag Archives: talking

The Art of Intimacy, or how we can lose it as we grow older


922fdc71b4b3d56d004b2e3f4e1aad93That old yellow wall phone. We had one with an unnaturally long cord in the kitchen of our house. It was the conduit of intimacy. We all spent hours on this phone over the years – it was out of the hearing of the rest of the family once they retired to the den upstairs. I must have spent weeks of time on the phone – with girlfriends, with (giggle) boyfriends, with everyone. The cord was long enough we could jump onto the counter and pull up our legs and feel all cozied in while we talked of – what? I don’t remember much – usual things about school or latest likes or plans and dreams. My siblings did the same. My mother lived on it when she was at home during the day.

It seemed as if the handset was slightly warm all the time, handed over with no time to cool. The cord got all stretched out of shape as we dragged the handset into different rooms, all over the kitchen, around corners.

In my family, kids were at home on school nights, and that phone was our connection to 3f635ff0e340055f44c2cfe7394f19da--old-phone-on-the-phonepeople outside – fellow entrapped kids, the secret boy who walked me home from school, the plots and games of outside life. The time we spent on the phone was intimate time, endless hours of it, getting to know each other intensely, one to one. Even during university, I spent hours on that phone – either to the family when I was away or to friends when I was home. So many words, feelings, thoughts.

When my kids were little, we moms formed tight bonds, the coziness of babies crawling all over us opening our talks, making us friends in the trenches. We’d call each other at 4 PM, the witching hour when being with small children was grinding us down. But, like work friends, when our kids grew up and went away, often the friends went, too. We got competitive, or marriages broke up, or jobs moved us into new relationships. The friendships often didn’t survive.

I was asked recently if I had “intimate” friends, people who I knew well, who knew me well, and my first answer was no. After all, I’ve moved all over. I left high school in my senior year and moved across the country, inadvertently severing ties from my school year friends. I spent two years in Seattle and then moved to Canada. More severed ties. And then I married a military guy and moved and moved and moved. With all the moves and the kids and general messiness, friends made slipped away. Was it my fault? Theirs? Probably both sides got busy and forgot to make the regular connections needed to keep friendships alive. It’s tough to keep in touch.

So now I’ve settled on the very edge of the continent and am using FaceBook as my yellow wall phone. I find old chums and meet new ones, chat with cousins and family and friends  – but most of these conversations aren’t close, don’t share reality. They don’t fill the need for the intimacy of face-to-face relationships. I truly miss those long conversations about nothing and everything, especially with people who know a bit of my background. I long for them.

2fa5e5a110cb1c7f82925997be5811a6I’ve grown accustomed to my distance, that long spiraled phone cord that hides the mess I sit in on the other end of the line. I push aside that stack of bills, the dirty dishes, the detritus of my lives, and put on my happy voice, or sad voice, or whatever seems right for that conversation, whether face to face or not. Which is usually nowhere near what I am really feeling. Interactions are shorter, busier, and I miss that one to one concentration and mutual sharing.

I had a phone buddy – a man far away who would call me almost every day, for no reason. We chatted about all sorts of things, for foolish amounts of time. Of all of my chums, he was the closest. Now he has become ill and can’t talk on the phone. I’m missing him so very much.

I’ve loved living a life of travel, of moving here and there. As I get older, though, I realize more what I’ve lost through it – the chance to have those friends from elementary school still around, the ability to refer to our shared past and add to it. The close crowd of family members who know me and love me anyway. As a Come-From-Away here in Nova Scotia, I’ve lived seven years without a bosom buddy, and it gets lonely at times.

Time to pick up the phone, and arrange a get-together…texting just won’t be enough.SC554Ylg

 

Praising the dog


Chutney, thinking about crimes

Way back in being-a-parent-to-three young kids land, I went to a lot of parenting classes. We won’t say what it was about those three young kids that led me to parenting classes, but let it suffice that there were at least two occasions where I put them out of the car on the side of the road and threatened to drive off without them.

Eventually I got around to teaching parenting classes, having concluded that walking through the fires of hell gave me the street cred to do so. My son helped by acting up before every class so that I’d have a fresh story to lead off the session with, god love him. It was fun. I got lots of support.

But the overall message that came through, strong and clear, was that you NEVER said “Good boy” to your son if he did something good – you were to praise the action and not the person, blame the action as if it came from somewhere else. Not, “that was bad, setting fire to your sister’s hamster”, but “Setting fire to a hamster is bad.” The argument was that a person was neither good nor bad, but their actions could be.

I’m not sure about that.

In any case, this is the only explanation for my response to my dog this morning when I told him to sit and wait while I took off his leash and he actually did.

I told him, “Chutney, that was GOOD LISTENING!”

I often find myself offering this sort of comment to the dog, who of course hears “blah blah blah GOOD blah blah blah blah”. And he’s a poodle, with a fairly large vocabulary, including car, beach, bow-wow (his camp), bath, dinner, bedtime and treat. He doesn’t care about the words around good or bad. He just wants to know if I’m cross or happy and if there is going to be a tasty treat involved.

Probably like my kids, when I come right down to it.