Looking back, it should have been clear by age four that the lineage of terrible communicators I came from was going to be severely disappointed in me. This was the age at which I asked my parents what caused pregnancy, no one felt comfortable enough to answer, and I then spent every evening of the next three years terrified, praying to God by the light of my turquoise butterfly nightlight that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning pregnant like the Virgin Mary. Eventually my friend Jenna helped me crack the pregnancy mystery, my butterfly night light malfunctioned and started a minor fire in my room, and I realized there were much bigger questions to ask of Catholicism, but the burning desire for dialogue never stopped.
The avoidance of discomfort and disagreement wasn’t ever oppressive in my family, but the carefully crafted, generational expectation of not rocking the boat left a lot to be desired. Partly out of rebellion, partly out of necessity, I gravitated towards people, books, and art forms that encouraged me to question anything painted in black and white, engage in conversations that exposed new knowledge and perspectives, and consistently fueled my sense of wonder. At first (as is apparent from very telling home videos) I think my desire to engage in conversation evolved out of the love of hearing my own voice, but I’m happy to say I learned quickly that I loved listening just as much, if not more. I came to embrace myself as an asker of all questions, a pusher of boundaries, and a soul open to conversion.
Without dialogue, our lives run on parallel train tracks without ever intersecting, as we experience together but interpret separately. As a member of the EdLab publishing team, a writer, an educator, and an explorer, I try and find ways of bringing those tracks closer together, so that while we grapple with the fact that mutual understanding is unattainable, at least we can perhaps touch hands extended from the train windows as we ride along together.