We spend days at a time on the mountain with only each other for conversation. Whoever is chatting on National Public Radio occasionally gets dragged in, and Nick the Dog is often polled when we get into heated political arguments, but for the most part, it’s me and Mason.
Now, we had good training for this social isolation on those long sails out on the Pacific Ocean. We can entertain ourselves for a frightening long time with the most miniscule bit of information.
But this past week, we had the rare chance to interact with “neighbors,” two sets of couples who own property adjoining ours who both happened to be up on the mountain at the same time.
Suddenly I was startling aware that perhaps in all our isolation, we had lost the art of conversation.
Now to start with, Mason can be a chatty sort. I’ve always said the boy loves an audience, especially once it’s beer-thirty. But as we chatted with these couples, we found ourselves stumbling over each other to tell our tales of the mountain. One story would spill into the next, and later I wondered whether we made any sense whatsoever, or whether we were giving cause for concern to our neighbors -- who we are utterly delighted with, and not just because they aren’t what one might fear to find in the backwoods of Tennessee.
Then yesterday, I may have just made a desperate cry for help: After years of ruthlessly mocking it, I joined Facebook. I just wanted to see my sister’s vacation photos, I told myself. But maybe I wanted something more, to feel a bit more … connected. Instead, I feel as if I sold my soul.
But today, as we chatted with our favorite Home Depot employee Charles and talked up Chandler and Frank, the boys at our grocery store, about our beer brewing activities, I decided that I was overreacting to our overly chatty ways. There was nothing to be concerned about; we’re just damn friendly people! Right?
The guest room update: Our flying squirrels have left sad little claw marks on the siding outside, desperate to get back inside, but it appears we successfully blocked all of their access holes. We almost feel guilty. Almost. The roof no longer leaks, the room has been wired and the ceiling’s drywalled (hell of a shoulder workout). Tomorrow, drywall goes up on the walls. I sure do love progress.