I was reminded by a humorous meme on WhatsApp. It went something like: “I am at a committee meeting. It’s a committee of one, I’m talking to myself.”
I talk to myself a great deal, although not necessarily out loud. I do it even more nowadays, since COVID and since, more recently, my husband’s illness. But my committee is not really one person, despite it being very internal. And the meeting agendas are always the same. Of course, I am the Chairwoman. As I said, the meetings are not “face to face.” They are more like the equivalent of a Zoom meeting, where you stare at your own face and wonder why, once again, the poor light is showing you at your worst…
I say to my absent family overseas: I miss you terribly. Especially our son, my brother, my sister, and their respective partners. FaceTime and WhatsApp videos are all fine, but I want to sit down with you, make a cup of tea, and have a good chat about – well, anything, even “foolishness” as Jamaicans say. Just to be with you.
I say to my husband: All I want is for you to get well. All I can do is make sure you eat nutritious meals; stay hydrated; take the right medications at the right time; get plenty of rest. And to give you your eyedrops; do the shopping; make sure the bank account is balanced; pay the bills; keep your various doctors’ appointments; and so on. So you can get well.
I say to the dogs (I ask them questions): How/why do you give so much love, all the time? How do you eat so fast, do you even taste your food? What do you hate about roaring motorbikes, and trucks with hissing airbrakes? Why does the ice cream van make you howl? Why do police sirens make you howl? And I tell them how funny and smart they are, even when they are being dumb… because I love them so much.
I say to the birds in the yard (more questions): Are you the same Prairie Warbler that migrated to our yard in August last year? What is life like in Texas (or do you come from Florida?) You Greater Antillean Grackles, what does all that tremendous noise mean? The whistles, the cackles, the screeches? Little Black-faced Grassquit family, what made you choose our hanging basket of orchids for your nest, and why are you rebuilding it – is it because the orchids are now flowering, making your former abode even more attractive?
I talk to the radio and television continuously – and generally out loud. Radio talk show hosts and news readers get my running commentary all day long – whether upbeat and cheerful or gloomy and disappointed.
More than anything else, I love writing. I realize that all this talking to myself is really an example of this, from someone named John Green:
“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”
One of my favorite books as a child (I still have it, a little old battered paperback) was “Moominland Midwinter,” written by the Finnish writer Tove Jansson. She was a nature lover, an exquisite artist and illustrator, and she wrote these children’s books about odd little creatures called Moomins – pale, wide-eyed, soft – and an assortment of other characters. A great deal of drama takes place in her books and in this particular one, Moomintroll wakes up too soon from hibernation and finds himself in a world of half-silence. He is lonely, but…
Of course, you can buy all the merchandise now and they have been made into a TV series, I believe, which I would not want to watch. The books are perfect, you need nothing more. This passage resonates with me. I like my own company, and I am quite happy to keep out of the way…
“There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep—then they appear.”Moominland Midwinter, Tove Jansson