GMS: The Art of Conversation

By Susan "Honey" Good

Have you had time to consider reconnecting with a friend you have not seen or spoken to in years? Here is my story:

A new relationship begins when one person is encouraged to enter into ‘conversation.’ Conversation is an art. Though I do not profess to be artful, I realized when I was quite young that I really enjoyed initiating conversations.

I also came to the conclusion that it was more important to be an interested listener. I realized that if a new relationship got legs, I would have plenty of time to be interesting!

I am reminded of one of my unexpected conversations that took place more than 40 years ago when my late husband, Michael, and I were newlyweds looking for our first apartment.

I laid eyes on a beautiful two-story building, Elizabeth Manor. I adored the name, as well. I had no doubt I wanted to live in the building, but in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would have an ongoing 40-year conversation... that all started with a conversation.

The real estate agent turned the key and we walked into the most charming two bedroom and two-bathroom furnished apartment with a balcony. I began a conversation with the agent, “Please tell me the story of who lived in this apartment previously.”

With a somewhat startled look she said, “How did you know it has a story?”

“You don’t often see two apartments combined,” I replied.

She continued, “Well you are right! A wealthy divorcee and her three sons lived in these side-by-side apartments while she was going through her divorce. Notice the opening in the living room wall, the size of a doorway? Her sons lived in the other apartment."

The agent went on to tell us, “If you move into one of the apartments, the management will put up two doors for privacy and sound.”

I fell in love with ‘her side’ and within a week Michael and I moved into Elizabeth Manor. Two doors were installed and life was good.

Three months later, two unexpected and fabulous events occurred – I found out I was pregnant with my first child, Jennifer, and new neighbors moved into the adjoining apartment.

…And that is when a 40 plus year conversation began.

Of course I wanted to know who moved in, so early one morning I opened my door, holding two cups of freshly brewed coffee, and knocked on the door.

A girl my age with a big smile on her face opened the door. I was shocked and happy to see someone my age. I smiled back and handed her a cup of coffee with a warm, “Hello!” She invited me in and, darlings, the conversation began.

“Hi,” I said cheerfully. “My name is Susan. I am so glad I knocked.”

“Hi! My name is Judy,” she replied. “I’m so glad you did, too!”

“You have a southern accent,” I said. “Where are you from?”

“I am from Atlanta,” she said. “Where are you from?”

“I am from a small town in Illinois, Kankakee by the Sea,” I answered.

I was the ‘interested’ conversationalist. I was eager to hear her story. I found out Judy and Richard were married the same month Michael and I said, “I do,” and Judy and I were expecting our first babies and had the same due date.

We talked and laughed for the next hour and the two doors did not close until our husbands arrived home from work.

We became fast girlfriends. We experienced our pregnancies together, experimented with new recipes, double dated with our husbands and gave birth to our first child only four days apart. She had a baby boy, David, and I had my beautiful Jenny.

We learned to be mothers together. I learned that little boys peed up when she asked me to help her diaper her baby boy and he peed in my face when I bent over.  She learned little girls pee down when she helped me.

It is hard to imagine, isn’t it? Two young wives and mothers with everything in common, sharing one large apartment all day. It was an exceptional experience!

Judy and I became fast friends, sharing our experiences through open conversation until…

The day came when I told Judy I was moving away. We worried our paths would never cross again. She knew she would eventually move back to Atlanta and my life was not determined. There were no cell phones or computers.

We sadly said our goodbyes and charged ahead with our lives.

It was serendipitous that 20 years or so later, my ultimate concierge and I would be with his family in Atlanta for Thanksgiving.

Over Thanksgiving dinner, I asked my sister-in-law, “Do you by chance know my friends Judy and Richard?”

She knew Judy because they played golf and bridge together. Elated I responded, “OMG, do you have her phone number? I want to call her!”

And call her I did. She was excited, shocked and asked that I come over right away.

As I entered her beautiful home, our conversation began right where it had left off. We had so much catching up to do. After sometime, we said our goodbyes, promising to try and stay in touch. It was not until several years later one sunny afternoon in Rancho Mirage, California that I received a surprise phone call.

A southern voice that I recognized immediately said, “Susan, it’s Judy!” She could hardly come up for air as she continued, “I overheard your name mentioned this afternoon and a friend of yours gave me your phone number. I couldn’t wait to get home and call you! When can we get together? I hope tomorrow! We have so much catching up to do.”

“I will meet you for lunch tomorrow,” I said.

It seems every 20 years our paths cross so we can continue our conversation. Now we are 60, own homes in Rancho Mirage and are back together. Our friendship had come full circle!  

That was then, but this is now. I am sorry to say we have once again lost touch. Judy and Richard moved away from Rancho Mirage and I have not seen or heard from her. I know it is not your typical friendship, never the less it is divinely special.

As I write and reminisce about our friendship, I realize it is all because I knocked on a stranger’s door with two cups of freshly brewed coffee and started a conversation.

Why don’t you do the same? Pick up the phone and reconnect with a girlfriend or a relative from your past and restart your conversation.