I was at a friend's place yesterday. We were sitting in her living room having tea and chatting while my three-and-a-half year old played on a mat on the floor.
Pause right here.
I want to let you take in a mental picture of this rarest of rare moments.
I was sitting and having tea - meaning I was not trying to snort tea standing at the kitchen counter afraid that I'd get caught doing this seemingly illegitimate but pleasurable thing. My little one was engrossed in discovering the contents of a box of toys my friend had very thoughtfully pulled out for her - meaning my girl wasn't even looking at me, let alone attacking me with a machine gun loaded with questions.
I was in a bona fide social situation with no interruptions from the kid.
If this isn't shocking to you it could only be because you don't live with someone my kid's age. I know you. You're the kind who doesn't have to draw up a cunning plan just to make a phone call.
Should I wait and call when she's asleep? or when she's at school? Should I just lock myself in the bathroom and call now?
You're the kind who thinks in complete sentences that end with full stops. You don't speak in rushed half sentences with exclamation marks hanging at the end for dear life! Always!!
You either secretly feel pity for my kind or you were someone like me once and now you shake your head indulgently at me.
In any case, this isn't about you.
Its about me. And that picture of me, in nice clothes, sipping tea in someone's beautiful living room. Uninterrupted.
At that moment I was a fly on the wall, observing myself. I saw myself listening and understanding every word my friend said. I heard squeaks and groans as my brain warmed up to formulate sentences. Then the machine stopped and like a satisfying flutter from an ATM machine, words came out of my mouth. Meaningful, valuable, precious words. I was so happy at this simple exchange, I got misty eyed and sniffle nosed.
And then, I went into a sort of self-reflexive slow-motion. There was nothing waiting to get done right at that moment. I wasn't at home with mountains of clothes waiting to be put away. I wasn't at work facing a tsunami of emails and phone calls. All that free-ed up mind-space! It was as if my brain had become that vast white, empty room in Bruce Almighty - the one in which God played by Morgan Freeman (who else) lives. I walked around in my brain listening to the soft echoey footsteps of my own thoughts. It was at once wonderfully quiet and a tad scary.
And then the moment ended. No, not because of anything that the little one did. She was still lost in the marvels of the toy-box.
It was me. Lets face it, I am just not used to not being interrupted anymore. The big white room is great but after a while it also starts to feel awkward...and lonely.
Once I snapped out if it, I felt an urgent need to fill up the blank spaces with colours and sounds.
I looked at my favourite interrupter sitting a few feet away.