Chris pioneered something similar to verbal shorthand. Then she taught the rest of us how do it, too. We have a way of compressing every detail, all the drama and emotion from an event, into a simple catchphrase that encompasses the whole thing.
Chris pioneered something similar to verbal shorthand. Then she taught the rest of us how do it, too. We have a way of compressing every detail, all the drama and emotion from an event, into a simple catchphrase that encompasses the whole thing. This technique cuts directly to the heart of a given situation, so much so that you actually feel it again. It works like this: First, we talk and laugh about a particular story, no matter how sad, uncomfortable or embarrassing. You have to get the whole thing out in the open. Then, we select the perfect words or phrase that represents the best, and often worst part of the story. Even long, complicated situations are reduced to their essence this way. This allows us to instantly recall, relive, and re-experience significant events, struggles, and situations. Coming up with the right catchphrase is part of the fun. Chris has a knack for nailing it.
Lying on the floor, inhaling the smell of dust and carpet, Alex and I listen to our sister’s chatter. They cover a lot of ground, racing from one memory to another, quickly jumping forward and backward through time, making incredible connections out of seemingly unrelated events. There is a cycle of tempo and crescendo to their voices. Feeding off each other’s energy, they are reliving the past like actors on a stage; only they’re playing themselves. They get louder and talk faster until they became a machine gun of rapid-fire dialogue interlaced with bursts of laughter. And then, their energy subsides. They quiet down, catch their breath and whisper. Then it starts up again. The next story emerges, and then another. The swell begins to build and the cycle of catch phrases and gut-wrenching laughter repeats itself. It’s exhilarating to hear. Sharing our experiences this way has become our primary coping device—followed closely by marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.
We listen as they test different words and combinations relating to our recent family fiasco, compressing all the craziness from this misadventure into a phrase that will trigger a kaleidoscope of feelings for years to come. Our latest adventure to San Anselmo, and our scattered return to Davis becomes known as, Project Refugee. They continue to laugh and blurt out other catch phrases such as Cuss word Combo, Popsicle Nazi, Urine Burn, XK90-BB, Chris Bross the Great, Matching-Earth-Mama-Hippie-Twins and No Mom—No Marilyn—Just Mare. Even though Alex and I are in the other room, we’re laughing just as hard as they are.
It’s magic. It’s safe. It’s exciting, comforting, familiar and exhilarating all at once. It is, without question, the happiest day of my life.