If Only I Could Use the Backspace When I Talk

One thing I’ve learned in “my” golden years is I’m not very good at conversation. I find myself stumbling over words that I can’t quite pull out of the right compartment, or uttering something I wish I hadn’t. Most of my conversations now are inside my head. With myself. There are the other conversations I have with my cat, Templeton, which are meaningless and mostly in a sing-song high-pitched kind of “baby talk.”

Retiring isolated me from my “work family” and meaningful daily conversations. Most of my talking is done in my head…with myself. Occasionally I talk with my cat, Templeton, but that is in a sing-song, high-pitched baby talk, which he answers with various tones of meow.

Is this a normal condition of aging? Or is like muscle tone? Do we lose it if we don’t use it? I wonder if this hasn’t always been a problem for me. I’m an introvert. I’m uncomfortable in groups of people I don’t know very well. I have no problem talking with my best friends or neighbors I chat with frequently.

Whenever I am faced with joining a group of people I don’t know very well, I begin to feel stressed. I put on my brave face, a smile, and hope I don’t open my mouth and allow useless, incorrect words to spew forth. Looking at all this, I understand the introvert part of me will never change. BUT, the art of conversation is disappearing. I also believe the deeper isolation of 2020 due to the pandemic, helped to speed this along. I’m saddened at being considered part of the older, more vulnerable generation making my isolation and self-talk even more pronounced.

And so, here I sit, using my conversation skills as I best do. In my mind. Speaking the silent words and then letting them flow to my fingers. A writer, not a speaker. Not a conversationalist. If only I could use a backspace when I’m talking…