small talk

Kathleen, the upstairs neighbor, must have heard me tromping down the stairs like an excitable rhinoceros. When I got to the first floor I saw she was holding the door open for me.

“OH!”
“I heard you comin’ down.”
“Well, thanks! …How are you? Any plans for the holidays?”

It came out like I wasn’t sure what to say. Awkward small talk despite having shared a good conversation on the balcony a few weeks back.

“Oh, I think we’ll head up to Providence for a bit.”
“Yeah, I’m headed back to Michigan too – I can’t wait.”
“That’ll be good. Get out in the woods. Forget the sirens and the BQE.”
“It’s SO quiet.”
“Almost makes it hard to sleep doesn’t it?”
“Definitely.”
“Well enjoy your time off if I don’t see you!”

Normally small talk makes me cringe. It’s forced. This was authentic. We were both simply trying to navigate what it means to be a friendly neighbor in a city where that does not exist.

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