I talk a lot. I always have. On my school reports in grade school, I used to get comments like “Student has a good attitude overall but needs to learn to not talk in class” or “Student tends to interrupt frequently” or “Student cannot sit next to friends.” My parents would sigh and scold, but I just couldn’t stop.

But even for me, I am talking a lot. This is what I do on my Summer Vacation in the States: I talk to people.

When you work overseas, but have lots of friends back home, these friends want to see you. You want to see them. So you go for coffee. Quite frankly, there’s nothing like a mid-afternoon double cappuccino (dry, for here) to really loosen up my tongue—not to mention how great it is to chatter away in English, not have to search for words in another language, worry about grammar or conjugation. So I talk. And talk. And talk.

I search back to those childhood lectures for a semblance of politeness, and say to my friends, “But enough about me!” No, they say, not enough. We want more. Tell us details; about your so-called friend who murdered his wife, about the locust plague, about your students, about hiking in a canyon with baboons and about the cave paintings. Tell us more about the crocodile you saw, just a few feet away, spotted by your son. We want to hear about that ancient culture; we want to know what it’s like to live in an Arab country when you’re American, given the current world climate. Give us your opinion on the situation in Lebanon, and explain the difference between Hamas and Hizbollah. You have Palestinian and Lebanese and Iraqi friends; tell us about them. And I do. I talk and talk.                                 

We go for dinner at people’s houses and talk. We show pictures, give away odd trinkets hand-made in the desert, over-eat, and talk. (We’re on the gain-10-pounds-in-10-weeks fattening program! It’s lots of fun.) We hang out after church and talk. We talk on the phone, we meet for pizza (Vincente’s on 20th and Hawthorne is the best in town), we talk. Fortunately, this is something I can handle.

And in between, we sleep. We keep Heather and Paul up late, talking, and then they have to get up for work, with kids, etc., but we don’t. We lie in the cool dark of the basement and sleep in at least until the girls (in the bedroom above us) start clumping across the wood floors. Then we stagger blearily up the stairs to the bathroom and smell the fresh-brewed coffee, feel the cool Northwest morning air coming in through the open windows, look out at the green trees in the yard. Some quiet time and 2 cups of coffee later, I’m ready to start talking again.

It’s a great summer.

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