She smiled. I smiled. I was so glad to see her. My neighbor, Joyce, came outside to greet me and Maggie as I was sitting on the porch, listening to my radio, and smoking a cigar just a moment ago.
"Howdy neighbor," she said with her southern drawl.
"I am so glad to see you today," I replied, taking off my headphones.
We talked mainly of mundane things as neighbors normally do. The sandals she had bought that were killing her feet. The man that was coming today to fix my dryer that is eating up my clothes. The goings on at vacation Bible school in which she is deeply involved. Little tidbits of our lives shared between the screens of my side porch.
I am getting better at this game – this game of social interaction. I am learning to act genuinely glad to talk to someone by the tone and inflections in my voice – learning to listen and to not always feel the need to talk all the time. Asking questions. How was your day? Did you sleep well? Can I weed-eat your yard? And the hardest of all: showing positive emotion and not the neutral or bland persona my medications can impart upon me. "It's formulaic," I tell myself as I watch my father and how he interacts with people. And there is no man more socially gregarious than he. Like a young apprentice, I am learning from the master one step at a time and the social anxiety melts away.