For most of the time I’m fine with chatting. Chatting face-to-face with others, or throwing text messages at each other. Most of the time I have no problem chatting while also doing something else, working, reading, or playing games. But at times, yeah, it could be annoying. There are times that I just want to be left alone, or left focused, having no interest in “multi-tasking.” By the way, I do know multi-tasking does not exist. Cognitive scientists say “multi-tasking” is just attention jumping around on different things quickly. They also say this kind of hopping around messes up with one’s cognitive capability and is quite damaging to the brain. I’m not curious of messing with my brain cells. They have the ultimate significance — got it, not going to challenge that.
I am trying to chat less now, online or offline.
Besides my family, there are two people in this world who I will always respond to immediately, whenever they need me for whatever. This is a promise I made to myself, not to them, so they may not know.
The first person is my high-school buddy. Let’s call her T. We got to know each other because we were in the same class in our last year of high school. We sat across each other, so we often turned to each other to chat or pick up a correction tape the other forgot to bring with her. I wasn’t much of a chatter at that time, but I’d enjoyed chatting with her. After a long day of studying in a crushed classroom with 50 other kids, for a few times, we walked out of the school, strolled aimlessly to downtown at nights. Our school located in the middle of the city, with plenty of fancy stores and dining places around. We walked, neon lights in all colors shone beside us. Longing for fresh air that signaled nothing about college entrance exam, we often ended up being in the nearby high-end mall, secretly envying all the other young, white-collar ladies in their impeccable outfits, while in the meantime taking home the only thing we could afford: croissants with crispy breaded cloth and fried ham and cheese inside, which carried a portion of our imagination on what adult life looked like.
The second person is my college peer, L. We were also in the same class, but we weren’t in the same dorm. Looking back now, I think not being in the same dorm helps contribute to our friendship, otherwise we would probably end up being frenemies. I did my college not in the place I grew up in but in the capital. Being a native, L showed me around all the fun stuff and cool places; she took me to the food stalls and local stores that only natives knew. Beijing then must be very different from what it looks like now. I am grateful that I had the chance to know a Beijing that I could fall for because of L.
Fun fact: I have not seen T for seven years and L for three years, and we do not live in the same countries. (They do, though.) There are 15 hours of time difference between us. Yet we chatted with each other almost daily, partially thank to technology and the internet, mostly thank to ourselves. I didn’t mention that I am not a person who excels at staying in touch with people. I am reserved, distant, and aloof. I don’t use all the major social media. I want to blame my sloth but really, I think I just don’t want to care. There’s so much stake in caring, nowadays. Plus caring is costly. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes money, it takes love — all of which I lack. But with T and L, since we had gone through so much together, there really isn’t much stake involved. I guess the risk will be higher if we choose to not stay connected, because they know all my shit and so do I.
Next time I’m going to talk about why it is so hard to make new friends these days (or maybe just for me).
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