I listen. It’s what I do… what I will always do.
Without intending to, I overhear most of the conversations around me. It can’t be helped– can’t tune it out. That’s just the way it goes.
I’m an unwilling master at retaining memory of these conversations, too. I can recite most of the details with ease, and forgetting isn’t always an option. Oddly enough, I’ve lost a couple talks completely. Apparently my mind didn’t like those and removes them entirely. Yet, I can recall for you an entire conversation with one of my teachers from the third grade, or incidents from preschool. The brain is a mysterious thing at times.
I was an only child, so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to growing up. I had my cousins, but they were either significantly older or younger than I. So I turned to the next logical step – the animals.
I’ve been told by many that they have never seen someone with the kind of ability I do to converse and relate to animals. I guess I can’t really deny it, as they tend to flock to me. Sadly though, hanging out with animals doesn’t really make you many friends. I spent most of my childhood alone.
Instead, I started listening to the people around me as a source of interaction. I have very odd hearing. It is oversensitive, much like my eyes to light. I hear just about everything going on around me. Somehow, human voice tones are more difficult for me to hear up close than farther away. This has resulted in me missing pieces of conversation to me, but if you’re whispering about me down the hall, I hear it.
That came in handy as a kid, let me tell you.
People have accused me of eavesdropping, but the reality of it is not quite the same. I’ve tried not to listen to what people say around me. As I’m typing this, I have my headphones in, but I can still hear some snippets above and around the music. I can’t stop.
A lot of times, people don’t even hear me. I get talked over in a lot of conversations, I can say things and it goes unheard. There is some ability of mine to almost become invisible without intending to, in a way. I can start to speak, and someone will rapidly talk right over it. I don’t usually bother trying to pick up where I started. I used to be bothered by it, but you get used to these things after a while.
I suppose it amuses me that despite the fact at hand of being dismissed, people tend to note my presence quite often… strangers, mostly. They also have a habit of randomly striking up conversations with me, so apparently I’m seen as a listener before t
hey even truly meet me. I lead an odd life, it seems.
Friends being few and far between for me, I built my whole life around the best places to listen. I hung around coffee shops, and eventually started working at them to have a constant stream of words around me. I heard the darkest secrets of people, found out their fears, joys and mistakes. As a barista, people tend to view you like a bartender. I was told many, many stories in those days. Things they sometimes wouldn’t even tell their family. Such as the man that told me he was gay, and never told anyone before in his life. I convinced him to tell his family, and a week later, he left me a very substantial tip. I gave him the encouragement he needed to finally show who he really was. It was a beautiful thing.
There is one way people will listen without pause – when I tell a story. My attention to the details therein, the little nuances of the event… people note that. They comment on my ability to remember such things; to retain conversations as I do.
So here I am. I do my best communicating in writing, and I’ve learned to enjoy it. Hope you do too.