September 19, 2013
My best friend and I talk all the time. We live together, so we talk in the morning, we talk in the afternoons when we get home from work, we talk while we make dinner or before we watch a show. On some days — the best days — we take long, winding walks and talk and talk and talk.
What are we talking about? Here’s the thing: much of what we say, we have already said. But that’s the nature — and the beauty — of knowing someone well. There are certain conversations that we love to have, and sometimes we find ourselves returning to them inadvertently. We both smile, and say, “I know you know this, but…” and then go on to re-hash what that high school relationship meant in the context of where we are now, or how we see an old event in a new light.
Sometimes it’s as simple as this: we talk about food a lot. She lovves butter, and I lovve salt. We’ll talk about some new thing we want to try, and she’ll say “See, it sounds GREAT to me, because I can put so much butter on it.” And I’ll say, “See, personally, I’d prefer it if it were more of a salt thing.”
We already know this stuff about each other. I know that she likes crunchy cookies and I like soft ones. I know that one friend of ours in high school made her upset in certain ways — but I still want to hear her tell me again. She knows that I’m overly anxious about my weight, but she’ll still listen while I recount, for the millionth time, how I got this way and how I feel about it right now, today. By re-telling the same stories as we cycle through new experiences, we keep learning from each other.
Yesterday my boyfriend and I spent a while talking about classes we’d taken in college. It was a conversation that I think we’ve already had, but it was fun to have it again: I told him, again, about the time that someone threw a shoe in my joke of a math class, and he told me about taking a class on the history of punk rock. When I realized we’d told these stories before, I smiled. He realized it too and said, “I think sometimes we have the same conversations twice.” But it was a good thing. I nodded. I like this.
It is human nature to re-tell our stories — after all, they’re all we have, and entirely what make us who we are at each current moment. I think part of loving someone is granting that permission: here, with me, you can tell the story again. We can examine it from a different angle. I’m not bored with your childhood, with your teenage anxieties, with your college dramas. Let’s keep talking about our lives.
I always feel relieved when my friend and I have time for a walk, and somehow afterwards everything feels cleaner. The beauty of the conversation is that, with the freedom to repeat and recycle, we always discover something new. We remember the ways that we’re similar, the experiences that connected us even before we met, and we keep a running tally of the ways that we are different, and how those differences connect us too. It makes me feel safe. It’s the best kind of good conversation.
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