birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Saying Too Much

There is so much to say but where to begin?

Do I begin when I thought that if I just found the right words or the right arrangement of words to turn my son around all would be different?

Do I recall the time(s) I swore I would say nothing and then suddenly I was saying everything I didn't mean to say and I couldn't bite the words back?

There is that acronym.

W.A.I.T.

WHY

AM

I

TALKING?

And I watched myself outside of my body trying to reason with my adult son, but there was no reasoning.

"Drop the rope."

"Drop the rope."

Someone told me that once.

So there's that.

But truthfully, he was the one where I can honestly I say I said too much.

I should have stopped. I should have shut up.

But I didn't know. I was dumb. I maybe thought, because I am a writer and his mother, that the words would mean something, but they popped like soap bubbles.

Evaporated.

Good-bye.

I guess we are estranged.

***

BUT...and there is a huge BUT if you want to know the truth - the truth is - I am usually the one listening.

I am the one being bludgeoned to death by talkers.

One woman, a newish friend, whom I didn't know well but liked a lot, pegged me as an "INFJ" when she watched me being bludgeoned by two talkers whom I could not escape for a good twenty minutes.

And she said to me afterwards, "I bet you know everything about them, and they know nothing about you. You're an INFJ."

I had a vague idea of what that was, but her words rang true, because I guess I have this kind of face that lights up when people talk.

Or just an empathetic something. I don't know.

And this surprises me because mostly I feel rather lumpish - not exactly Hulga in "Good Country People," but I'm always surprised when people mention this light I offer them.

And they do mention it.

And I question this light - am I being vain?

Am I a fake or a fraud?

Is it because I spent time in high school imitating my best friend, Pattie Murphy, who shone a light so bright on people that it made them feel special?

Or did I have always have this light?

I don't know.

But I know that I get cornered by talkers and I let them have at it.

If my husband, Kiffen, is around (and he is usually NOT because of geography) I let him deal with the talkers. In old our life together, he greeted people, any and all, and I was happy to give him the baton of small talk.

Small talk makes me want to die.

That sounds obnoxiously dramatic, but it's unbearable.

***

So tonight I got cornered by a talker in Athens, Alabama -by someone with a traumatic brain injury, which happened in 2008, he told me, but after I smiled at him and a brief conversation ensued, merely because I was trying to get by him, he wouldn't leave my side for the next several hours where I was attending a storytelling festival.

I had listened to him for a few minutes, smiling in the right places, and for the next several hours, he found a chair beside me and sat a little too close.

During the break I went and got my dog out of the car and put her between us. That was a little better. He was harmless, but just weird, and yet he gave the dog water and showed me his pocket knife, tried to help me with my coat, offered me coffee...he was just a little too there.

And I felt guilty for wanting him to get lost.

My friend, Amy, would have told him to get lost.

I adore Amy.

There are just times when it's all too much.

When I don't want to listen to the talkers who talk and talk and talk.

The talkers invariably insist on telling me that they have a book they want to write and maybe I could help them (ugggg) because stupidly I tell them early on what I do.

Note: I am going to stop telling people what I do.

For I do not want to help them write a book.

Now some of the talkers I love - the storytellers I love and I could listen to them forever.

But it's the ones who want something from me - who want me to show them how or to give them a shortcut or I don't even know what they want.

But sometimes, in the explosion of their words that keep coming and coming and coming, I want to walk away.

I want to keep walking.

I want to dive into the deep end where I can't hear them.

It's so "unsouthern" of me not to listen.

But sometimes when they go, guns blazing in conversation, I, too, go somewhere else in my head - I have memorized the script enough to know the right amount of sighs, nods, eye contact, suggestions, and cheerleading to offer when I am really thinking about the chapters I am not writing or the glass of wine waiting for me or the new Joan Didion documentary that will restore something, maybe, inside my heart and head...

Blah blah blah...

***

So with my son, I didn't know to shut up.

And with strangers, I automatically shut up so they can pour their hearts out to me.

And here's another thing - I am seeing a therapist, and when I talk - she yawns. Not always. But plenty. She yawns, and when she isn't yawning she is fighting not to yawn. I see her bite back her jaws.

So this yawning therapist isn't good for me.

I don't remember her yawning in the beginning but she yawned throughout our last session and several last spring.

I have another appointment with her but if she yawns through this next one, I'm quitting.

I can't have a yawning therapist.

It makes me too depressed.

Maybe I'm saying too much here. It's late on a Saturday night and I've spent the day at a storytelling festival in Athens, Alabama, but the storytellers transported me to glorious places, in spite of the talker who found, and I was/am so grateful for them.

This minute a pumpkin spice candle burns on the piano. (There wasn't much of a selection at Aldi's on Green Springs Highway.)

A dog sleeps a thick red blanket.

And no one is talking but me.
 

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