33 Comments
Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Isn’t it fascinating how some of the most profound conversations happen between strangers? Knowing we will never meet again seems to unlock another level of intimacy. Your story of Nadia cut deep. And thank you for sharing my ducklings. I’m glad to be part of Spark today.

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Yes, most of my most memorable connections have happened with strangers. I wrote a bit about that in a different essay long ago and am remembering it now. There is such freedom in these exchanges. They are gifts..

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I do love a deep conversation, but sometimes forget what to ask. I used to answer every question asked of me, and truthfully, until I was accused of oversharing. Then I learned from watching British television that I can simply change the subject if I don't want to answer. Given all that though, I prefer deep conversation to small talk. I'll have to work harder to having a supply of questions to ask.

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I, too, try to be sensitive to the balance of answering versus asking. Sometimes I throw out questions as a defense against invastion - an automatic response that I later regret. Sometimes, I talk way too long and realize I haven't asked the kind of question that would bring another person out. Having some in the back pocket -- like the day I took the 36 questions with my husband and me as we ate lunch -- helps.

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I need to make a list to keep on the Notes app on my phone.

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Congratulations on four years. As one of your longtime readers/followers, I have been well rewarded. Thank you Betsy. As for questions, I am of an age where I am repetitious and it depends who I am asking. A new face gets the oldest question if they have not already volunteered an answer: ‘Where are you from?’ The reply can lead anywhere in my experience. With friends and neighbours I usually pick up where we left off our last conversation, with an ailment or family gossip (e.g. ‘How’s George?), and away we go. The most life-changing question I have been asked more than once is ‘Do you know…?’ Need I say more?

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You've made me realize that I can't count. Yes. Four years, not three. I immediately edited my post and wondered what else, besides an entire year, slipped away unnoticed...thank you, Robert!

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Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

What did your family eat for dinner when you were a child? Is a question I seem to have asked of my dearest friends. My oldest most trusted friends. What happens around the family table. How we were nourished or not. Says everything. To me at least. A girl who grew up on the road eating out of cardboard buckets and fast food sacks.

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This is a great question, Chris. It is specific but leads to so many possible discussions - food and eating are so central to our histories and our lives. I'm going to remember this one and also your advice to choose when and how/who to ask.

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I was working on an inner city film set once when two Latina girls from the neighborhood started interrogating me to determine my Latina bona fides. What did you eat after school? They finally asked. Quesadillas, I answered. They nodded as one and accepted me. Funny but true.

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Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Yes. This. I grew up on fast food and my Cherokee Bom Bom’s fried catfish and pinto beans. Poor people food is how some people see it.

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We got government staples for years when I was a girl. Pounds of elbow macaroni and huge blocks of Velveeta cheese. Edible but not exciting. KFC was a huge treat. Or rolled tacos ten for $5.

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Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Yes. We also got government staples. KFC was a treat. Also Jack in the Box tacos. To this day I feel a pull towards their drive through windows.

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I tried KFC a few years ago and it was not as good as I remembered.

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I remember that cheese! Argh!

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My mom used to love saying, "Let's have a profound conversation!" And sometimes it actually worked. My brothers and I say that to each other to this day...sometimes it still works. If nothing else, it raises the bar a bit, so no one talks about the recent weather or starts an "organ recital."

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Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

The question that I ask individuals, especially after a few glasses of wine, that seems to always elicit a myriad of answers is about the "meaning of life." Other questions that enter the realm of embarrassing are concerns about bathroom ministrations and, of course, SEX (activity; when to STOP, et al). And, of course, my fave questions concern religion, and how they arrived at their beliefs. Many have told me it's best to avoid any of the above questions, but sometimes I just blurt them out & wait for an answer.

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I think you're right. The big topics always lead somewhere interesting and just because we ask (hopefully in a kind, interested way) doesn't mean someone is obligated to answer. Religion is a big one. The meaning of life -- even bigger.

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Interestingly enough, I was with some friends from the past (we all had gotten OLD), and I complemented my friend, Ida, on the fact that her thinning hair had thickened since I last saw her; how great was that? Except, it was a weave and a hairpiece. Luckily we are close enough friends to LAUGH out loud about my commentary, but it was after a...PAUSE.

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Loved all of this! It also makes me think about active and engaged listening. Like “deep talk” rich receiving is another way of showing love, connection, and empathy for other. We all want to be seen and true hearing is part of that, right? Beautiful piece. Thanks! 💗

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I was just looking at those 36 questions too! 😂😂

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They're fun, right?

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I enjoy those deep and momentary truths we come upon with strangers. I do that most often with fellow parents. “We’re the shepherds of an unruly flock.” Someone nodded with a firm understanding. Sometimes I hope when we pass, we help to impart something positive on one another.

Most of my deep conversations are with my longtime friends and we do so not only over text, but email, calls, and in person. Even so, there is still more to know about them, but that’s what I’m interested in. The everyday questions are fun and we learn lots about each other that way, but those deep questions are very special.

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Strangers provide a special opportunity to open up, that's true. It's equally true that long-time friends can keep connecting more deeply and learning about each other by dipping into those deep questions from time to time. Sometimes I try to imagine coming upon someone I know well as though they were strangers -- I'm curious about who they may have become while I was busy thinking I knew them already.

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I love this post, Elizabeth. I'm reminded of why I don't like to go to movies or shows alone, because I want to discuss exhaustively, sometimes for days afterwards, if it was a good show or movie. The reminder to not fear the pause is also so important, because when I'm nervous I often get a mouth that just runs on with a blah, blah blah.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine offered me a free past-life regression session. I was instructed to write out 20 or so questions to ask my higher self while I was to be in this heightened state under her guidance. After she lulled me into a relaxed condition, I told a story about who I had been, although the skeptic in me felt that I never totally lost consciousness. But what I'm getting at here, even though my "higher self " answered my questions (mostly with the suggestion to take a walk everyday ((duh!)), what seemed to be the most valuable kernel of wisdom I gained from this experience was to later, now actually, review the deep questions I had asked myself.

It's so easy to let the everyday whirl of our physical needs, i.e. groceries, bills, showers, cooking, work, get us into a place where we very rarely take the time to think deeply about what we stand for, what we need to get accomplished in our limited time on this physical plane and how do we honor ourselves most fully, despite the pressures on (at least us females) to nurture others?

Thank you for this reminder to think, and talk, more deeply, and more often!

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Thank you for these thoughts! And look at what happened right here in the notes -- you got a conversation going with beth!

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

I much prefer real conversations to small talk but know it is needed at times. the woman who works at my school teaching Spanish always asks very direct questions. when someone looks surprised, she responds by saying, "you Americans always beat around the bush. most of the world just asks or tells it like it is." she is from Columbia. ps - happy 4!

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

Haha! So true, about direct comments from some who speak Spanish! In class in Spain, my old teacher said, "Of course I remember you, but you've gotten a bit fatter." And, I'm like, "Well Carmen, I AM five months pregnant!

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Mar 31Liked by Elizabeth Marro

a perfect example, and my example happens to be about a woman named carman. )

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Ha! I speak weekly with a friend who is Italian and she often speaks much more directly -- they also dispense with unnecessary exclamation points in texts, and do not find it at all rude if one just gets to the heart of things in an email -- skipping all the "hope you are wells, etc etc).

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Mar 30Liked by Elizabeth Marro

This post really resonated with me. My sister always says to “elevate the conversation”. I saw her turn a conversation at a baby shower for a young woman from Peru, from conventional and shallow talk to a profound exchange on Latin American immigration! Your sentence “I don’t know about you but I don’t always know what I’m thinking until I get a chance to explore my thoughts out loud” made me think of something my mother used to say, “I talk to hear myself think.” Thanks for the good food for thought!

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I love the story of your sister and the baby shower. That is a skill I want to develop in myself!

Thanks for the good words, Karen.

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Some of my favorite and deepest and most revealing conversations have happened on trains, riding along together, nothing to do but either read or look out the windows or for me, write. But those conversations that sometimes happen. Those are the best.

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