Conversations take time

I am at the end of an annual weekend catch up with two university friends.  In reality we are together for less than 24 hours, but we make the very most of the 24 hours and focus on talking and allowing conversation to go wherever it needs to.  

And part of the delight of these weekends is having the time and the space to allow conversations to meander and develop, to lull and to rise.  Our friendship was formed in the days before smart phones, in fact in the days before mobile phones of any description.  Our communications with each other were face to face in rooms and sitting rooms of university residences, in student bars and trips into London together.  Our communications with others outside the university bubble were very limited: letters, infrequent trips home and one pay phone shared between 30 people and a message system of scribbled notes pinned to a noticeboard if anyone called when you were out – or if the person answering the phone just could not be bothered to out the effort in to find you.  I know – that sounds like we were rude – but for those of you not as old as me, can you imagine the hassle of having to answer a phone on behalf of 29 other people which required you to stop whatever you were doing and run along a corridor and then spend time running around to try and find whoever was being called.  Understandably there were times when one could not be bothered. 

There was a conversation this weekend about how lovely those times were, we still did loads and felt stressed, but no doubt that communications were simple by dint of being very limited.

And this weekend has been a lovely recreation of those days of time and space for conversation, away from the distractions of a million WhatsApp/emails/texts/Facebook messages etc vying for attention.  Instead, it was just us and our focus on each other and hearing a lot of news, plans, thoughts and worries and joys in a short space of time.  Delicious.

To the person’s whose calls I did not answer – sorry, I will check the noticeboard once I am back home and queue up for the phone to call you back.

Sunrise and sunset moments

It’s feeling like a long dark winter this year, but there is one delicious habit I have developed thanks to a dear friend which is lightening the season.

Since 24 November I have been consciously marking the moments of sunrise and sunset by texting a dear friend and letting her know what I am doing, however mundane or trivial. The friend texts back and sometimes we have a longer conversation and sometimes we don’t, just two short texts every day is the aim.

It has meant that I look forward to sunset and am able to place it in some sort of context. The light may have gone, but generally I am warm, safe, surrounded by colleagues or friends or family who I feel safe with. Generally life is good in that moment. It may be full of irritation or frustration, but it is one moment and taking a snapshot of one moment gives it some perspective.

It has been interesting seeing the difference in time between my sunset and my friend’s (we use the BBC weather app to give us the time). We were in different countries for one week, but mostly we’re about 10 miles from each other, so seeing that our sunset time can vary has been intriguing.

Most of all I get a little glimpse into what she is up to. It’s a tiny window into her family life, which crashes into our sunrises on most days. It’s sharing a moment of the to-do list, the projects, the frustrations which make up our daily lives. We see each other often, but those catch-ups often involve the big things in life like what the children and spouses are doing, our projects and plans.

Our daily texts are marking our friendship together in a precious way, recording a season together, both the changing light in the day and also the way life changes in small ways every day.

It’s making me enjoy sunset. That is a powerful benefit, believe me.