First Words

Phoenix Art Museum Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Phoenix Art Museum
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

As I was drifting on the edge of sleep last night, I had a random thought, as I sometimes do, and I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it.

In books and movies (good ones, at least), first words in a relationship are important.  They set the tone for the relationship going forward.  In Harry Potter, Hermione’s first words to Harry and Ron were, “Has anyone seen a toad?  Neville’s lost one.”  She sounded bossy, and was taking charge, even then.

But in real life, we don’t bookmark moments, and they often pass by with little notice.  I remember how I met my oldest friend; we were 6, and her finger was slammed in the desk by another girl.  I imagine my first words were something like, “Are you okay?”  I remember being attracted to my husband because he wanted “an interesting woman,” but I don’t remember how I decided he was interesting in those early days.  I remember that we talked for hours but don’t remember what either of us said.

But as to the rest of my friendships, I remember very little about their beginnings, because in early days, those relationships aren’t important, and by the time they are, those early days have become blurry.  The most important moments in life are usually only important in retrospect.

That’s probably why conversation is so hard to write; most conversations are nothing profound.  I’ve tried to listen to my conversations with others, but the problem is that if I’m listening to them, I’m not in them.  Conversation often blurs around the edges too, in retrospect.

In writing, it’s hard to make conversation sound real, because if it’s really realistic, then it’s pretty boring.  Think about it.  Most conversations are pretty boring.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has some of the best conversations I’ve seen in any book, but I wouldn’t exactly call it realistic.  The teens are too witty and without the missteps and awkwardness of real conversations.

Lucky for me, I’m care more about entertaining and being entertained than I do about whether or not something is “realistic.”  Still, wouldn’t it be interesting if we could rewind life, not to change, but just to see?  “Oh yeah, I remember now!”

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