Sitting Quietly With People

Dog in chairIt’s Canadian Thanksgiving, which means I’m in a whole other city visiting family and dogs and things. It’s 1am and there’s a dog who refuses to go to bed as long as one other person in the house is awake. I’m writing and getting this week’s videos ready, and thinking about how my family is weird.

It’s not that strange, my understanding is that everyone’s family has its quirks and oddities. Mine is that we sit quietly in rooms together. Hours can go by without anyone doing more than making polite conversation, whether in the house, over dinner, or in the car. A few sentences are exchanged, and then we go back to what we’re doing. My aunt putters on her ipad, my cousin relaxing in her chair, my mum busying herself with knitting while a History Channel show about aliens blares in the background. I’m attached to my laptop of course, writing or playing games or doing whatever it is that I do on this thing.

It’s quiet, apart from the aforementioned aliens show. Even the dog is quiet. The cat is a ghost. Even the house holds its peace. It’s an easy silence.¬†We’re interested in different things, is all. four people and a dog sitting in a silence broken only by the occasional sarcastic remark, because aliens. My understanding is that other people tend to find it a bit offputting. Most families are loud, they talk a lot and get caught up, they either know each other well or strain to fill a strangers’ house with their own noise. They do things together sometimes, whether it’s board games, arguing, or I’m not sure what else. We can’t be bothered with any of that. Never have.

It’s relaxing. there’s no pressure to be a particular human, or to do anything different from what one would otherwise, it’s just in a different place. Food is eaten, sleeping is done, and sitting is accomplished. I change my aunt’s lightbulbs, and do the other things she needs a tall person to do. She gives me another box of books or two. This is the only kind of vacation I understand, a genuine home away from home. We’re family, we’re relatives, we love each other and stuff I suppose. But more than anything else, we’re four people sitting quietly in a room.

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