11/19/2008

Switching Roles - Listener to storyteller and vice versa

Today was a beautiful Fall day in Washington, DC. Sun shining, blue sky dotted with white clouds and an occasional splash of color on the trees.

In the spirit of the times Jim and I try to bundle our trips downtown these days. That explains why I was sitting in a Subway Sandwich Shop on K Street at 7:30 am this morning sipping diet Coke from a BIG cup filled with ice while Jim was at the doctor's office on the fourth floor of the office building next door.

I plugged in my Mac and established my space.
I can understand why writers like J.K. Rowling write in coffee shops and maybe Subway Sandwich Shops. Itis not busy until lunch time and no body bothers you at all. Best, there is nothing else in that place that you have to do. No laundry near-by, or telephone calls, animals to let out, emails to write, business bits to take care of - nothing. What I can't understand is how those writers can write longhand on pads of paper. I like the tapping sound of keys under my fingers.

Later when Jim returned he had another cup of coffee and I refilled my Coke. Then we moved the car out of the very expensive K Street parking lot and found metered street parking near Dupont Circle. I was taking my turn as gallery sitter at Gallery 10 today and Jim was meeting a friend for lunch at the near-by Phillips Gallery. Sensible right?

In between we made Thanksgiving Dinner plans, shopping lists, caught up on the Washington Post, and talked. I like that last best.
From our first blind date in Baltimore 54 years ago to today I love sitting and talking to Jim, about nothing or about something. We often talk about stories. Not just my storytelling but about family stories and our stories.

Actually, storytelling is key to Jim's business. As a doctor who is also a psychiatrist-psychoanalyst he listens as people tell their life stories so they can discover themselves. I have heard him introduce himself as a professional listener. He can't tell me any of those stories - they are all confidential - but I can tell you - he is one of the best listeners I have ever known. He not only listens to the story he hears the nuances that others miss.

But things are changing. Now he wants to tell another story - his. Often he tells me stories - new stories - about himself. What happened to him in the world he created where he worked. What happened in the neighborhood, with the people, and incidents on the street - you know, everyday stuff. The color and flavor of the stories he lived outside his office.

We swap roles - he talks and I listen.

A fair exchange.

Marriage.