The Lost Art of Chatting

Today we had the first unofficial selling at our garage sale and we (Ray and I and our neighbors) sold collectively around $450! We were all pretty jazzed since we aren’t even officially opening until 7 tomorrow morning.

This experience of working with our friends and neighbors on this “clearing out” process has been one of the most pleasant I’ve had in a long time. It is extremely satisfying that we are all so united in digging through all our excess and getting rid of as much as time and energy will allow.

Plus, it almost feels like a 50’s neighborhood, all of us sitting and chatting on the front porch of the house where we’re holding the sale. Tonight my sister-in-law brought over her boxes for the sale and she and I sat from 8:30 until almost midnight on that same porch swapping stories while Ray sat out on the steps at the end of the sidewalk talking with our neighbor. The moon and stars were out, a breeze was blowing from the west, and the night was quiet. We sat in the dark and talked softly about our children and husbands (who are brothers), and commiserated about the good times and the less than good times. It was the first time literally in 30 years that the two of us have had unrushed time to simply relax and talk. What a treat.

Last night Ray and I walked to the municipal building where the city was hosting “Hot Summer Nights,” a community event where people come with their lawn chairs and listen to a band perform. There was a snow cone stand, a hot dog stand, and the “blood mobile” from the American Red Cross, where people in the community were donating blood while they listened to the music. We sat with friends and chatted, then walked home afterward – three blocks – and sat on our neighbors’ front porch for almost an hour just talking. Again, it felt like I remember the ‘50’s, before television sent everyone inside to stare at the latest show.

We would all do better if we spent more time getting to know our neighbors. We don’t have to share the same political views and it’s okay if we are more or less conservative religiously and in life in general. The more important connection we share is that we are all just plain folks who have much in common and who actively want to build on that commonality. I can’t help but believe our whole society would do better if we’d all come out of our air-conditioned homes and spend more time getting to know one another.

Maybe we should have our Congressmen spend time doing a Congressional garage sale. After all that time working on a common purpose, they might just discover that it’s a lot more fun to get along. We might even get some legislation passed that actually gets our country out of this recession and back to work again. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

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