Today I discovered that conversation between two people is possible, even when the only thing one of the participants is able to mutter is “ja.”
One of the greatest difficulties someone living abroad can encounter is not being able to communicate in the host country’s language.
Nevertheless, today I found out this isn’t always the case.
As Roxy and I sat on a park bench, soaking up the sun’s early morning rays, an elderly lady made her way to where we were and sat down.
Immediately, she smiled and started talking in a bubbly tone; one I hadn’t heard since I last spoke to myself in the mirror.
I was about to tell her I didn’t speak her language when suddenly, she chuckled.
She said a few more words, energetically gestured with her hands, and continued to chuckle.
Before I knew it, I was chuckling too.
And then we were laughing; full belly laugh that made Roxy’s ears perk up as if to question, what the heck are you laughing at?
Or more significantly, why are you laughing when you haven’t understood a word?
Giving Roxy a look that said, “Stop being such a cynic,” I continued to listen to the lady, nodding my head and inserting a “ja” from time to time.
After a few minutes, she stood up, said goodbye, and continued on her way.
As I saw her leave, I realized I hadn’t enjoyed a “conversation” like that in a while; a conversation in which I had only laughed and uttered “ja.”
A couple of hours later, as I sit nursing a cup of coffee, I ponder today’s encounter.
I wonder if having been relegated almost exclusively to the role of listener made for the enjoyable exchange.
Or if, however, it was due to the woman’s infectious enthusiasm.
Had this exchange proven the Significant Other to be right when he claims “I’m actively engaged in conversation even when I’m letting you do all the talking?”
Or had it served to demonstrate that laughter is universal and that at times, it’s the glue that holds a conversation together?
I also wonder the reasons for the woman’s merriment.
Was she happy because it was warm and sunny? Was she simply content to have company? Had she purchased new shoes?
I could say that, had I been able to speak her language, I would know the answer to these questions, but I won’t.
Because today I want to believe that conversation isn’t always about two people verbalizing.
Sometimes, it’s about chuckling with someone else, even when that someone else is a stranger.
Sometimes, words aren’t necessary to convey I’m happy, excited, glad to be alive.
Sometimes, all you need is a warm day, a place to sit, and someone who’ll listen.