I like to take walks. I like to wander aimlessly under the sun, letting the feral creatures of my mind loose, or shutting the whole brain off because the breathing and the moving lulls me. Come to think of it, I love my walks. Or at least I used to.
Maybe it doesn’t happen as often anymore because most people don’t talk, they text or tweet instead. But my neighbors are older. I mean we’ve-brought-the-median-age-on-our-block-down-to-65 old, so I am subject to it at any time. People around here look each other in the eye and converse. They ring the doorbell and offer you grapefruits from their tree. They smile and want to chat about city council. And if you’re out walking, if you’re exposed, then you’re just a target for an encounter, and thus vulnerable to the lastima of miscommunication.
For example, just the other day Neighbor #1 said, “Is that your dog?” Neighbor #2 responded, “Same to you, thanks!” #1 replied, “Is he a Wheaten mix?” #2 said, “I’ll tell him you said hello!"
And I was there, I had to watch this exchange from across the street, the confusion on their faces, even the dog’s. I felt their borderline shame. Everybody knew wires had crossed but nobody knew about what, and I had to will myself to keep going, ever so slowly, my mind weeping. Or that time I told a neighbor about the book I’m writing and she somehow heard me say I’d go to church with her. How could I dare clear this up, even if I am Jewish?
To be fair, it’s not always due to age, sometimes it’s a leaf blower or 6am grogginess or what I assume is the general malaise of wanting to be left alone. But somehow I’m involved in and privy to a lot of these blunders, and every time I want to referee life, I want to bring hands together and say, "Write each other a note so you will understand.” I want to see a coming together, messages being received, and connections made. Because it hurts too much to witness the separation that threatens us all.
Maybe tweets and texts aren’t so bad. They get the job done. For now I can always just stay inside, walk around my house, and work on not miscommunicating with myself.