Write of Way by Mary Lou Sanelli

Thursday, January 03, 2019 1:39 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


We have friendships for many different reasons. 

And for many of us, this has little to do with reducing our relationships to likes and followers. We are looking for…more.

I have terrific women friends. Wise, wonderful, and fun (for the most part).

And I have James. His most admirable quality is that he is without pretense.“What’s on your mind, darling?,” he’ll say, flashing a smile, which I believe is the most generous way to begin a conversation, before lowering his gaze as if he’s about to hear one of life’s sacred secrets.

Or, you know, whatever is bothering me.

“You have to keep a bit of mystery to yourself.” We were talking about how drunk everyone is on selfies “in the same way the Russians guzzled the vodka,” he said, “and look what happened to them.”

There are few conversations in life when, regardless of the subject matter, when it’s as if all your thoughts and emotions are aligned with all of your friend’s thoughts and emotions. Our whole conversation reminded me of the day I was waiting in line at Whole Foods and chatting with the guy behind me. We were talking fruit in season, that kind of thing, except he kept looking at his phone.

I tried to overlook it, be cool, be current, but it always feels like being put on hold. Even now I think of him talking and scrolling at the same time, and I see a gutless way to communicate. I wanted to shout we do exist without our phones.

Because we do. We really do. WE are the real thing. And these days it seems like most of us are missing it.

I came right out and asked him what is so important that he has to be in on it even as he lays produce on the conveyor belt. It was one of those ridiculous things I hear myself say sometimes, knowing I’m being brash, but I say it anyway.

And that’s when his girlfriend (wife?) jumped in, “This is just how it is now.”

As if I knew nothing. At any rate, she reminded me that since I do have more years behind me, I’ve attained more success, too, more independence. So I can enjoy a little harmless chitchat, and, okay, a little harmless flirting, without checking in. My flesh may be softer but my attitude is firm: If I’ve learned one thing, it’s how one shared idea, opinion, or observation can lift us out of ourselves and make everything around us seem more, dare I use the word, connected.

And, yes, I may very well be hoping for a miracle. But if you are shopping at Whole Foods you are certainly paying enough for a miracle.

So I say thank goodness for James, who is one of the most successful business men I know, yet he still knows how to leave his phone off for however long it takes. Life may be going on at a hectic pace around the two of us, but he’d never let something as expansive and beneficial as our friendship be dwarfed by something small and addicting as a phone.

Oh, I am thrilled to know James is free to take a walk later. He will pick the route and I will take his arm.

And we will talk.

Mary Lou Sanelli

Mary Lou Sanelli’s Write of Way has been a part of Art Access since 2004. For more information about her and her work, visit www.marylousanelli.com.

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