In Defense of Small Talk – Really Small Talk

As I walked my dog through my new neighborhood, I started to see familiar faces and patterns. It began with smiles and quick hellos. Here in Philly, most say “How are you doing?” as a single word. Then we move on to comments about the weather. Quick comments – so we both can keep moving. One day there are two neighbors talking with one another – the conversation moves up to two or three sentences. I can tell as I walk away they share notes on me. I can tell because the next time I see them, the hellos have a little more energy.

I know what I am doing. I am living in a community – in a culture – that has been here long before I arrived. I am weaving my thread into their cloth. Conversations start venturing into nearby holidays, the coming weather patterns and “I have to get back in to finish my chicken stew. I’ve invited my son over tonight.” I ask how they do their chicken stew … and we reach a new level.

Conversations about family recipes, best places to buy chicken, best sales. And – for the first time – questions about me. 

Now the doors open as I approach – quick jokes – old jokes – but wonderful little connections. Today, one of the older neighbors, a sweet 78 year-old woman, asked as I walked by, “Do you like beer or wine?” 

I think I am starting to belong. How great is that!

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