my daughter used to get furious when loved ones would clam up during a heated argument. i tried to explain to her that there are two kinds of people and some of us can’t find words when we are overly emotional. i told her that sometimes it’s as if an avalanche has occurred on that bridge between thought and voice and we are completely blocked. recently, a friend laughed in the middle of talking and described how his too many thoughts tumbling through the tunnel from his mind to his tongue were getting all jumbled up and he needed to slow down . . . two kinds of people indeed. i remember my brother-in-law wanted to share a revelation and started his story with “you know how when your mind is whirling with many ideas and thoughts?” and i brought him up short by answering “no”. not too busy in here; some pondering maybe.
with my first boyfriend i had to learn how to articulate my feelings. it took a whole year. with my second boyfriend i took much pride in being able to succinctly and expertly express myself. then he would turn to me, almost with a sneer, and inquire “so what’s really bothering you?” twenty-five years have passed and my daughter and i still reference that absurdity as an inside joke. when i was raising my girl “use your words!” was the popular instruction used by parents trying to instill some sort of civility in their offspring. i never ever once said that to my daughter because i tried not to expect more from her than from myself and i wasn’t setting the best example in that area. and then she grew up to have the biggest voice of all and is well-known as a spoken word artist. so there.
i remember playing dollhouse with friends as a little girl and having to remind myself to talk out loud. my first year of school i remained mum in the classroom and only spoke outside on the playground. and just to my red-headed italian boyfriend. my mom says she, and her mother before her, were also silent in kindergarten. i wonder if i’ll round out my life by becoming a silent daydreaming old lady or if instead i’ll become a babbler, refusing to let anyone else get a word in edgewise. either way, they better be serving me some coffee and cake. everyday.