Real, live conversation

FaceToFaceIt happened twice in May: lengthy face-to-face talking with friends of mine who don’t live that far away, but with whom I never get a chance to talk with anymore.

The first was with my friend Norm, best man at my marriage to Carol. For over twenty years, we played racquetball together at the YMCA, sometimes with a group of other guys, sometimes just ourselves.

We talked about families. I remember his son as a baby, and now he is spouting facial hair. Both of his kids are in college. And that group of guys went for a time went to Siena College after the Y closed, but it was much less convenient for some of us, and we drifted away.

I’ve long noticed that, even though one may not be best of friends, I learn about how other people think when I’ve played racquetball, volleyball, backgammon, or hearts, or being in a book group, with them. One sees how they think.

It has long been difficult for me to have male friends or even good male acquaintances, and that group met that need I didn’t even know I was seeking.

I had hoped that a couple groups in church might have been that collective I guess I had subconsciously been seeking but it didn’t work out. A men’s Bible study just fell apart a couple years back from guys being busy. More recently, a book group I left for reasons that are too complicated to go into here; I might go back in the fall, maybe.

Oh, the other person I spoke with was my friend Lynne, who I’ve known since December 1980. She was coming home from a meeting about the shortsightedness of building a casino in, or near, Albany. We talked for quite a long time – two of the same bus number passed by – about social justice issues, environmental concerns, and the like. She lives less than three miles from my house, but I “see” her only on Facebook.

I’m not quite sure how to infuse my life with more real, human interactions – as opposed to the facile, day-to-day stuff – but surely I am needing it badly.

And because I can: Face the Face by Pete Townsend.

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