Some linguists believe that we may or may not have started talking to each other about 100,000 years ago. But they don’t know for sure and they don’t know what started it. Could have come on all of a sudden or over time, with a series of grunts, hand gestures and other expressive means. Some believe that when humans began creating art, it gave us something to talk about.
What I do know is that conversations spark ideas, define turning points in life and can literally make one choose one path over another. I began thinking about conversations. I tend to get nostalgic this time of year.
At 16, I had my first date. In the back room of our house was a hobby/work/junk room that my father worked in—building, painting, puttering. There was a large table in the middle of the room. On it was a miniature town, a model of mountains and roads that he’d built from using various scraps of materials. He’d painted it shades of green, brown—nature’s colors. There was a train set that ran the length of this miniature world. I think it even choo-chooed, but that could be my brain adding things as grey matter does when it’s grasping at old memories.
That early evening, he was there working on something. I hugged him bye, saying, “Daddy, I’ll be back by eleven.” He was a man of very few words but the ones he said were solid, true, “You call me if you need anything, you understand?” And he hugged me back, hard.
Don’t be too harsh when I reveal this. I once entered beauty contests. I know, I know. I don’t like them either now. But in high school we had them in our very small town and I’m not apologizing for the times or where I’m from.
This was a big deal kind of thing, the dress one wore, the way in which a lady answered questions during the all-important opinion phase of the contest (holy crap, yes). My mom and I had gone shopping and found a chiffon strapless peach colored gown. It had a rhinestone-thing that went from the center of the bodice and wound around my neck.
Pageant night came and everyone was all a-flutter in the dressing room getting ready. Girls slipping into stockings and heels, curling their hair—that kind of thing. I applied heavy makeup and my mom helped me step into my dress. She zipped it up and it fell to the floor. I’d been dieting. My mom looked at me, mouth open.
“Brigitte, you are going to eat when you get home.”
She proceeded to pin the dress and I teetered out to do the pageant thing with a growling belly and a light head. “Eat,” my mom said, as she handed me a pan full of my favorite whipped cream and cherry cake thing she made when we got home that night.
“Don’t do this to yourself. It’s not that important.” She was right, as Moms often are. I’m good with the eating thing now.
Siblings & Girl Power
“I will beat him up,” my big sister said after my third-grade boyfriend told me I looked like a ugly monkey when I went to school wearing my first pair of glasses. I’d come home crying. She was in the sixth grade and she didn’t play.
“Take deep long breaths—that’s what I do. Everything will be okay,” my younger sister said. I was staying with her after a traumatic event. My anxiety passed and I slept soundly that night.
“What am I going to do when you’re not here?” My baby sister and I were lying on the bed, face to face, talking before I moved away. That sister bond does not break.
“I do,” he said. “I do,” I said.
It was June and despite the fact it was normally hotter than two hellz in Memphis, that early summer evening was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky. No humidity, a slight breeze and temps in the high 70s. The rest, as they say, is history.
The thing about words, conversations, sentiments expressed from one human being to another is this: They stick. They matter. They travel out, ripple and change lives. We carry the feelings we get from them and we give it to someone else.
Even traumatic and painful conversations can come to mind, I think, when we need to feel that again, revisit that lesson or guide someone else through something similar.
When we remember those special conversations, we are right back at that place with that person or persons. It’s kind of like magic, isn’t it?
And to All a Good Night
That’s what this time of year is about—the things, people and places that we love to love. Whether your loved ones are here, far way or in another plane of existence, I hope that the memories you make are good, warm ones that you’ll carry and give to someone else.
In that spirit, let’s start a conversation–what are some of your memorable ones?
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone.