What is Conversation? 

Chalk it up to generational differences? Or perhaps it’s situational; I will, for example, never aspire to have my mother’s marriage or the kind of relationship she has with her children. 

Good conversation is like tennis: You volley your ideas on a subject back and forth, building your ideas on top of each other’s until you both have a deeper understanding of the subject and/or each other, and/or are enlightened in some way and/or are somewhat entertained. 

Conversation is not, for instance, a conglomeration or random ideas spewed within a period of time. And it is definitely not whatever it is my mother describes, the converse of which is “like a classroom; the teacher talks, then it’s your turn to talk, then it’s my turn to talk.”

So you can imagine that I get frustrated with people who don’t have the skills to listen or carry a single train of thought at a time. And, seeing as I enjoy traveling alone, my default reaction is to simply not talk. I could stay silent (except the occasional question to locals) for days at a time. You would also be able to guess that my trip to Scandinavia with my mother has, so far, been nothing short of a epic test of patience (which I have unequivocally failed). 

(She has since acknowledged and accepted—her word choice!—our contrasting definitions of conversation, which might be worse than her being ignorant of it in the first place.)

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