This is how you listen. No, not with your ears. With your eyes. When you sit with someone who’s speaking to you, telling you about how awful her day has been, you listen. You listen with your ears and try to pick up those words, every one of them. And you try to glean what she’s trying to say from what she’s not saying. But the trick, my dear, is in listening NOT with your ears. This is how you listen with your eyes.
When you sit with her, you open your ears to her, yes, but try not to rely only on them. Open your eyes as well. When she is fidgeting, maybe touching her hair too often, picking at her fingernails, swinging her legs.
Notice, maybe when she talks about her mother, she clasps her elbows, clenching them tight like a cage. Maybe she clenches her fists.
Notice, maybe when she speaks about her boyfriend (s), she’s twisting her hair around that index finger, eyes glazed, barely even reacting to your questions. Listen with your eyes.
Even when she’s not talking, maybe she flinches when strangers are near or covers her ears with headphones, her hat, her scarf, her hood? Maybe she hides herself, closer into the corner where the table meets the ledge against the wall.
The world is a very loud place, if you want to listen. But it’s colorful in its loudness. Open your eyes and you will hear just as well as you can see.
Notice, maybe on the days when the words are sad, when the words are all greys and thunderstorms, that she is a riot of color, all neons and reds and greens, alive.
Open your eyes.