I cheated on my usual hairstylist this weekend and had my hair trimmed by a hair stylist in a beauty supply store. It was in desperation and I hope Patti will take me back. The young lady who tamed my hair was happy to take care of me and I learned all about her childhood in Philadelphia and how her sister will be closing on her first home this week. I enjoyed telling her stories about driving my little Datsun on Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California and was shocked she had never heard of how AquaNet hair spray is the best to destroy your hair when using a crimping iron. I told her how I would be the most social agoraphobe she might ever meet so she should enjoy the random moment to the fullest. Turns out, she has a family member that struggles with social anxiety and sometimes won’t leave the house. She wondered how I could be so chatty and still be… she struggled with the right word —
I pester my son about learning what I call “The Art of Small Talk” almost constantly. It’s almost become an instantaneous eye roller for him. I do annoy him about it because I have relied on small talk for so long as a coping strategy that I don’t even realize I have slid into coping. When I feel myself suffocating in a new environment, in one I feel from which I can not escape, I have learned to refocus my attention away from me and where I am and onto someone else. I begin to learn about the other person and find out how he or she is. I feel better by making my world smaller around me.
Originally this was going to be about what I usually write about when the topic is about “sustaining connections”. I planned on writing about how I trimmed my “Friends” list on Facebook yet again this year to people I actually engage in. I would mention how I focused on developing “Inch-wide, Mile-deep” relationships with people rather than “Mile-wide, Inch-deep” relationships. I thought I would throw in the conversations I had with my junior high aged son about not pursuing countless friends and working on having friends who count.
I have done all those things. But I also did the opposite. I cast my net wider this year. I worked on adjusting medications so that I wouldn’t be so closed off to people anymore. I focused on renewing connections with people in my neighborhood — not with the intention of having deep meaningful relationships, but with the purpose of sharing our humanness. I delivered our neighbor Christmas gifts this last weekend instead of having my kids do it and spent time talking with everyone, especially with one couple I haven’t spoken with in at least three years, just to catch up. I maintained my rooted connections this year instead of growing them from seed so that I could focus on tending the landscape around them.
It feels good to have some yard work done before the winter fully hits.