when my boyfriend tells stories, well when he tells you just about anything, i am reminded that he was once an actor.
he sits up straighter, his face lights up, and before i know it i've gotten a 15min answer to how was your day?
i joke with him about this. about his level of detail, about his perspective, about how he goes off on allusions and metaphors and then comes back to the story at hand five minutes later.
there are no short answers with him.
even now, he is talking to me. he is talking about music and his love of k-pop. i don't know how we got to this conversation. he sees me typing and he continues to talk. he has used at least two metaphors i have missed. i smile at him because i love him and i can add this very moment to why i am writing this post.
i joke with him about his storytelling, but, honestly, i am in awe. i too acted in the past, but i have little of the liveliness he does. i don't think i ever had it, but i certainly don't now.
i have found myself getting quieter as i get older. i could say it is because i am doing more listening and meditating and taking in the world...but some of that would be a lie. i am more distracted these days and notice i am missing entire sections of conversation because i am off in my own little dream world. i do meditate more. i am sometimes taking in more of the world. i enjoy the quiet that comes with being more mindful...but i know much of my quiet is not related to that.
i am quiet because i worry i don't have much to add to the conversation. some of that is because i notice i really don't have anything valuable to add and, as i've gotten older, the more i've realized i don't want to talk just to talk. just to make sure someone knows i'm there. if i am passionate about it, i'll speak. otherwise i will listen, i will take note, and i will store the information in my brain for later.
sometimes though i am quiet because i don't feel like fighting for "air time". in larger meetings and groups, when a number of people want to speak, i often won't force my way in. i'll save my comment for later or will just keep it to myself. i notice how some dominate the conversation (more and more i've watched how some men in my life do this often unaware of the impact they are having) and how others, perhaps with my predilection, stay back and listen. i'm not proud of this development in my behavior and reactions--i think i used to make sure my voice was heard--but it is what is happening.
other quiets of mine are different. when my boyfriend asks me about my day or someone asks me how writing is going, i usually say things like "fine" and "well". one sentence. maybe two. i'm not sure if i think people won't care or if i think my life and work just aren't that interesting. probably a combination of the two. add a little insecurity about life choices on top of that and you have someone who prefers to be silent.
my boyfriend notices how i often deflect questions back onto someone else. i'll answer with one sentence and then back to the other person. i will ask more and more questions, because i am truly interested and because then there is less time for me to speak. i am always worried i am talking too much (i realize this goes against much of what i am writing, but i am a contradiction so you'll just have to deal) about myself so deflecting i go. sometimes i'm not aware i am doing this...but there are a lot of times that i am very aware of what i am doing.
i'm avoiding detection. i am not sure what i'll say or what others will discover from my opening up.
when i do open up and speak, my stories are not as animated as my boyfriend's. they are simpler. both of us care about word choice, but i notice that i take a lot more time to find the right words, which often translates into me saying less. my words, my stories, are not unlike my plays, which often have short lines of dialogue.
every once and a while i have such a strong reaction to something that i can't keep it down and it bursts out of me, much like stories burst out of my boyfriend. it is rare, but it does happen.
i will never tell stories like my boyfriend. he has a style all his own -- a style that i sometimes love, that sometimes drives me crazy, that always fills me with awe.
but i do hope to get better about telling stories like me. i do hope that i start sharing my voice in speech as i do in writing. i do hope that one day my boyfriend will sit on the couch and get a 5 to 10 minute answer to how was your day?