Several years ago, I was lucky enough to get back in touch with a friend with whom I’d become estranged. At first our contact was tentative. Both of us were out of practice in talking to each other. You know how when you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, your conversations have an easy rhythm, a cadence? I can often tell whom my husband is speaking with just by hearing his side of the conversation, because I recognize his speech pattern reflecting that of the other person.
So it’s difficult when you’ve been apart. Almost like navigating a new language. You’re rusty. And there is so much to say! Years have passed. Things have happened. What to choose first? And then you add in the emotional aspect: the guilt left from allowing the separation to go on for too long, the immense pressure you feel that those first words are just so gosh darn important. They can’t be just any words. They have to be momentous, they have to be vital. You have to choose them carefully.
Because of the difficulty in the task, you put it off. You can’t chat yet, you have to wait until everything is just right. You have to write it out, because this moment must be scripted to perfection.
So it never happens. And opportunities pass, thus ensuring even more guilt, more pressure.
That’s the way it was with this relationship. And this was in the olden days, before we older folks were on Facebook– I think it was still just a college campus thing. We did have e-mail, at least; it wasn’t quite the Stone Age. And rather than put all that pressure on us for that first phone conversation, I e-mailed her.
Let’s just chat. Let’s not make this a big thing. Start small: Tell me about your day. Tell me an anecdote about work today.
Tell me a story.
Which is harder: having not enough to say? Or having too much?