SOL2015 March 3 The Choreographed Catch Up

There was a time when visiting each others homes was a somewhat spontaneous thing to do. At least it was during my childhood. Family and friends would drop in, or call by when passing. ‘Just passing and thought we would call in and see how you all were,’ was an expression I heard frequently when growing up.

Those visitors came armed with treats- cakes, tarts and cream sponges or flowers, fruit and vegetables. The bearing of gifts was seen as an entrée to the visitation. It seemed right to come calling bearing gifts.

As a child ‘dropping in’ was accompanied by hugs, kisses and  an abundance of smiles. In our house the arrival of guests would instinctively prompt one of the adults to suggest that the making of a pot of tea was the most appropriate next step in this social ritual. Eventually men and women would gravitate to different ends of the kitchen. The conversation flowed easily. Time flew by quickly.

The kids would gradually move in the direction of the backyard to play a game, check out a bike, climb a tree or, slink off to the bedroom to check some new whizzbang toy. It was relaxed and easy socializing.

Today, a lot of people tend to lock themselves away in their castles and caves. Spontaneous visits have diminished. We maintain a sense of being time poor or we rationalize our actions and in-actions on the grounds that a spontaneous visit may be unwelcome. People frequently choose to go out to meet each other. It appears the catch up is increasingly conducted in non man’s land. Neutral ground is preferred People phone or text messages friends and ‘arrange’ to meet somewhere known to both parties. ‘Let’s meet at Café Blah for a coffee on Tuesday afternoon. Does 1.00 pm work for you? ‘ The catch up is choreographed. It has a fail safe escape clause if needed. ‘Look, gotta rush, I just remembered I have pick up something from the dry cleaners.’

I say this because today I sat in my café of choice and listened to two groups of people doing the catch up routine. They hadn’t caught for ages it seemed. Been so busy, they said. Must do this again soon, they said after their short exchange. All neatly and tidily enacted. Then off they scuttled in different directions to resume their harried lives.




Comments

  1. You are right. I do catch up with friends. We meet. Maybe we do this now because we don't really live much in our homes. We are always on the go. Hmm.

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  2. I remember our neighborhood being like that, neighbors would stop by for coffee and children would play. My mother used to meet her friend at the back picket fence while hanging out the laundry. Lovely times.

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  3. Ironically my slice today is about catching up with a really good friend...she came over to our house...but it was arranged/pre-planned if you will. If it wasn't for open gym time, we could have chatted all afternoon and night. I do remember simpler times growing up. I wonder if the working mom has been the biggest influence on how things have changed.

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  4. The sense of longing for the old days is in all of us.

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  5. This makes me sad. My theory is also that we want to front a "perfect" life. We want our houses to be spotless and "company ready." Dropping by or stopping in unannounced might mean that people see us as we really are - messy, unorganized, and real!

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  6. This reminds me of the essay "Bowling Alone." I remember the dropping in on family and friends from my childhood. We never "drop in" unannounced now. How did that happen? There is a cultural schism where I live, a fissure along religious lines, that defines social circles and that governs whose home one can and cannot enter.

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  7. What a good post! You have described the changes so well.

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  8. So, so true. This is a sad comment on our current society - so connected on the surface yet so alone inside. Makes me want to make a spontaneous drop-in visit to someone, But who would let me in?

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  9. I love how you described the social ritual of making tea for the unexpected visit. I wish people could or would drop in for a visit--we live in a rural area far from town. The distinctions you made--especially the still self-focused, scheduled catch up--resonate. It seems that my retired parents have these sorts of visits with neighbors though--maybe there will be a shift after some of the "too busy" working and parenting years. Good reminder to make it so.

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  10. I'd say that as a kid, my life was so free and we moved in and out of houses, effortlessly. I don't think that happens now, but then I lived in a neighborhood where we walked everywhere.
    As an adult, you perfectly describe what it's like. We don't drop in spontaneously. I don't live in a neighborhood anymore where my friends live.
    Good Slice Alan, as usual you've got me thinking.
    Bonnie K.
    http://digitalbonnie.wordpress.com

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  11. This is an excellent observation to make. The power of a human, in-person connection is so understated. We just don't make real time for each other any more. The excuse of being time poor is just that. You make time for what you value, and the sad truth of the world we are living in is that people are valued less and less everyday. Just look at how we treat each other.

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  12. This is an excellent observation to make. The power of a human, in-person connection is so understated. We just don't make real time for each other any more. The excuse of being time poor is just that. You make time for what you value, and the sad truth of the world we are living in is that people are valued less and less everyday. Just look at how we treat each other.

    ReplyDelete

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