Making Conversation

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My neighbor stopped by yesterday, ostensibly to give me some advice on roof repair (I was looking for a handyman referral) but really just to check on me. He laughs and shakes his head at all the different cars he sees in my driveway. I’ve been driving quite a few.

Another car would be a benefit, for sure. But like cable TV, it just seemed dumb after a while to pay insurance on a vehicle I mostly drove a couple of miles per week. Most places I need to go I can walk, and that’s a much better option anyway. And it’s not a big deal to rent a car for a day or two once in a while, particularly when compared with the costs of owning another.

But things come up, and they came up. I rented one for a week the first week my buddy was hospitalized, then for a couple of extra days (I think), then just working out schedules with Julie. When they moved him to rehab, closer to me, I could easily take a bus to visit.

This week started off looking crazy busy, and that’s when friends stepped up. One of them is out of town this week, so I’ve got her Toyota for the duration. There’s now a list of cars, sitting in garages and driveways, unused for the most part and waiting for me to borrow.

My neighbor would have loaned me one, probably, had I asked. That’s why he really stopped by. To ask what he could do, what I needed. He just turned 80 and could pass for my age, probably, at least in terms of youthfulness and energy, and he’s the happiest I’ve seen him in years now that it’s been a couple of years since his wife died and he found a new romance in an old friend. He needed company.

We all need company. It’s funny how little thought I’ve given to this, as much as I’ve been aware of my isolation after 30 years of working from home. I’ve always felt that I could compensate and I do, making conversation when the opportunity arises.

But I’ve never needed other people as much as I do now, for whatever reason. Even when Julie was in the hospital and then recovering at home, I was fine on my own, and preferred it. Too many cooks in the kitchen, etc.

It’s been enlightening, this epiphany of mine that I actually need to interact. It’s come during a stressful time, of course, one in which I felt very much on my own. It makes sense. I need to talk to people, and my wife is gone most of the time. My son has his own issues managing the stress of having this family friend so ill, so we don’t exactly do the man-to-man stuff. He closes his door and puts on his headphones. The guy has learned how to cope with his neurology, and he definitely knows what he needs.

It’s been a surprise for me, though, and a pretty pleasant one. I’d rather skip the concern and trauma, but I don’t think any of us gets to skip.

And my stated goal for this little Lenten project was to try to eliminate some things to see if I could figure out what was getting in my way, if anything, of becoming the person I want to be, or should be. Or could be, something. And somehow it seems to be working out. At least I have more conversations like I did yesterday, and I seek them out now, and I think I have to.

Chuck Sigars1 Comment