I was fourteen, and we'd gone into the gas station for drinks, but the gas station attendent (remember those?) was still checking the oil and cleaning the windshield on our old Ford Torino, so my mom and I sat in the car. I'm not sure what sparked the conversation, but somehow we started talking about my dad, and my mother's choices, and the regrets she had. It was a disquieting conversation, and an illuminating one; I understood my mother a little bit better afterwards, but myself and where I stood in the world much less. Nearly three decades later, I can only remember verbatim one sentence of the conversation—but I am still puzzling and considering it.
Some conversations are like that. They change something, maybe: how we see the people we spoke with, or how we see ourselves. Some fundamental knowledge of the world is gained or altered. Or maybe we just remember how much we love that person, or why. We might not remember the actual, literal words for the rest of our lives—but we remember how the words made us feel.
And that's the topic I'm hoping you'll consider for this month's Write Saturday: important conversations.
I love layouts that record the things our people say. I just made one, in fact, with a collection of the funny, sweet, and ridiculously awww-inspiring things my 8-year-old has said in the last six months. The story that brought him to say "I don't want to grow up because grown-up movies are boring" is one of my favorites!
But I don't mean that kind of conversation-based journaling.
Instead, try remembering the way conversations have influenced you. Or influenced one of the people you scrapbook for. Maybe it was a conversation you never even heard—between your child and a teacher, maybe; your husband and a doctor, your mom and her friend.
Why write about conversations? I think quite often they are the things that change us. They can change the path of a relationship or our understanding of how the world works. They can help us see each other in a clearer light, or maybe they can do the opposite—leave us baffled. (That's memorable, too.) They are the way we connect with each other, but we can't ever rewind and listen to the words. We just know how they influence us.
This is the kind of layout that starts with a story instead of a picture or a supply. Maybe you don't even have a picture that connects, exactly, to the conversation. That's OK of course—find one that is sort-of close, or related somehow. Or just make a layout with the story and no photo at all! When you write about a conversation, you have to include some of the surrounding details—where it happened, who was involved, how the talk got started. That is how you tell a story about a conversation. All that's left to write is your words about the impact it had.
I made two layouts with journaling about conversations I'll always remember. The first one happened last year on Easter, when my family all gathered at my mom's. The little kids were playing (and eating the candy they'd hunted for!) while the adults and teenagers gathered around the desserts. We started talking—and a long time later (and plenty of cake!), we stopped. It was the first time my Bigs were listening to the grown-ups talk, and there were some surprises for them, and a few disclosed secrets. I think it was a conversation they'll remember, and I know I will, so it felt important to write it down:
The second is more about talking in general, with my teenage daughter who at the time of the picture was right in the middle of the "I talk to my mom the least amount possible" phase of adolescence. (I hope I'm not the only one who's experienced this!)
But while we were running on the beach together during a vacation, we talked. Not about anything big. But enough to reconnect. Enough for me to (hopefully) communicate my affection for her, and enough that I remembered it won't always be this hard.
When I finished this layout I wondered: is this about her? or about me? I guess it doesn't really matter though. Conversations are like that—about everyone involved.