If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the conversation I just had with my grandma. She lives in the midwest, and I haven’t seen her since my wedding almost two years ago. We chatted on the phone about the weather, what’s going on in her garden, and the family reunion that’s been planned for July. It was small talk, more or less. I’ve heard so many people bemoan small talk, but I’ve come to value it over the years. Grandma and I used to have stilted conversations over the phone, and I dreaded the awkwardness of it. But as I’ve gotten better at talking about everyday life, and asking questions, our phone calls have gotten better, which means that our relationship has gotten better. Because so much of our relationship happens over the phone, we don’t really have the luxury of silence.
That precious small talk allows me a window into my grandma’s life. I get to learn about the things she cares about, like how she saw a large rabbit in the yard, and how it likes to eat the beets, but not the carrot greens. Just because it’s small talk, and not deep talk about the state of her soul, doesn’t mean that it matters any less. Besides, during our conversation, I learned the name of her high school best friend, and that they spoke recently. I learned that my grandma is really, really excited to see my niece (her great-granddaughter) in July. And I got to show her that I love her, just by asking about her day.
So maybe small talk in a relationship is like giving water to a plant. Just how plants need sunlight and nutrients, relationships need those moments when we share our vulnerable selves. But the small talk is also important, in the right doses. Some relationships need a lot, and others only need a few drops every now and then, but it prepares the soil for the big stuff later on. I know that there are things I’d talk to my grandma about now that I couldn’t have a few years ago, and it’s partly because we’re just more familiar with each other. So maybe what matters most is figuring out how much small talk a relationship needs, and then not forgetting the sunlight and fertilizer when the time is right.
I’d love to hear about what small talk means in your life. Do you find that it leads to sweet moments, too? Or would you rather find other ways of nurturing your relationships?
Small talk or not, I hope you have a lovely weekend! xo