Only Connect

I might have made a big mistake the other night. I answered the phone during dinner. At the moment it didn’t seem like such a big deal. The phone rang as we were having the leek and potato soup, and I automatically leapt out of my chair like a teenager. We have an interesting division of labor around the phone in our house. It’s basically this: I answer the phone. It’s not that the phone calls are always for me. It’s not because I am always rushing for it; sometimes it will ring and ring and ring until I get it. I usually answer it. Evan usually doesn’t.

So this was just one of the many times that the phone rang, and I looked (yes, we have caller ID) to see who it was and made the snap judgment that I needed to talk to that person more than I needed to have my leek and potato soup.

The truth is that it was a kind of “important” call in that the person was a neighbor that I don’t know too well, that there is an issue of a shared fence that the wind blew down, that she, too, works and has children and has a busy schedule. We talked and made a plan for the poor, lopsided fence. We talked about our kids, our work, and both (I think) felt that it would be great if we were to talk in person sometime soon. I hung up feeling glad to be a neighbor, even if we have to deal with problem fences.

When I returned to the table The Husband and The Girl were eating the chicken and the spinach in silence. The chicken (which I bought already roasted) was pretty dry, and something was clearly lost from the mood while I was up and talking on the phone.

I’m not trying to scold myself; given the same situation I might take the call again. But what the experience did remind me of is how precious and tenuous those moments at the dinner table can be, how much they connect me to the people I care about, and how hearing about what The Husband did for lunch and who The Girl played with at recess really matters to me. Maybe I don’t have to be so hard on myself to produce a terrific meal, maybe showing up is more than half of the work.

1 comment:

SF Mom of One said...

I thinking showing up is the essence.