I used to write every day, even if I had nothing interesting to write about. I want to resume this habit, even if it's in detriment of the imaginary reader. When I start writing the flow of thought just gushes through, and I often end up riding a train of thought that rushes towards unexpected destinations.

I wonder if the same thing applies for conversations. Oftentimes I want to strike conversation with someone, but I withhold myself not knowing what to say. I've even downloaded a couple of books to help me strike up conversations with strangers, but it all seems so trite, inauthentic, and boring.

One of those books made it clear that the purpose of small-talk is not to be interesting, authentic or original. Its purpose is to provide an entryway to more interesting conversations. You don't walk up to a woman in the gym and ask her what is the meaning of life--even though if someone did this to me I'd be endlessly amused, and if it was an attractive woman I'd swoon.

I'm introspecting as to what actually happens when my "mind goes blank" in conversations with a new acquaintance. I'm seeking for things to say and I'm evaluating if these are interesting conversation topics. If I was writing I'd be staring at a blank page, trying to produce something interesting for the reader.

If conversations happen as in writing, then I should simply start speaking, trusting that my speech will flow to interesting places. Some days ago I was at the gym. An attractive lady was stretching behind me, out of my view. I heard a young man strike up conversation with her: what is your name, do you come here often, how is your day going, etc. It was all safe and boring, and the lady was reacting to it with weariness until she had enough and told the guy "look I'm trying to have a workout here, see you later". I looked back and the guy stood there a moment, dejected. "I just wanted to be friendly" he reproached. The lady looked at him without saying anything, and then looked away and she made a face somewhere between disgust and exasperation. The guy walked away.

I felt bad for both parts. The guy didn't get the hint, it was obvious she didn't want to have that conversation, and he could have easily make a graceful exit by simply saying "well it seems you are busy with your workout, see you later!". He basically forced the lady to say out loud what she was already demonstrating with her attitude. Even if she got what she wanted (stopping the guy from interviewing her in the middle of her workout) I could sense her annoyance lingering after he was gone.

This event made me notice that if I was in that guy's place, I would probably strike up a similar conversation, but I would have made a graceful early exit, sparing both of us the embarrassment.

Yesterday I didn't complete this entry. I couldn't find how to give it closure before my yoga class. I ran into my gym crush after class, we exchanged some pleasantries, and then she told me she was leaving to pick up her "kids" (16 and 20yo) from school. "you told me you don't have kids, do you?" she asked. I said no, and what about you... are you married, separated, divorced? To my surprise, she said that she was married. The small issue about her having a husband had not surfaced until I asked.

Then she started laughing and was a bit embarrassed. She said she had a WhatsApp exchange with a friend which kinda referred to this conversation, but she was too embarrassed to show it to me. "Ah you can't do that, now show me". After some prying she produced her phone and she showed me a meme with a small dialog "I want a boyfriend who loves me the way I am"--"And what's the way you are?"--"Married". We shared a hearty laugh.

She asked me about my relationship status. Single. Available. But you must have your girlfriends. No, I don't, not in a long time. Why? Oh we would have to grab a coffee for that. I understand, she said. It's difficult being married, but I've worked that out with my husband.

And through a skillful series of allusions and indirect references she made me know that she was married but "available" with permission from her husband. I answered in equal skill, understanding what she meant without pointing at the obvious. She said that the most important thing for her was to be free, and unfortunately some people didn't understand that, they wanted to possess and they got jealous because they didn't understand that sacred dictum. It appeared that the major issue with this set-up isn't her husband, but the eagerness of her lovers to trespass the limits she puts in place to protect her family.

I told her that I liked her since a long time ago, but I had thought that she was too young for me (she was ecstatic at this remark--she's almost five years older than me). I couldn't stop looking into her eyes and she remarked "You have a very penetrating gaze", I said "That's because I can't take my attention off of you, it's like nothing else exists around us". She was flattered. So I said "Ok, I like you and you seem to like me, what comes next?" and she said "I don't know", and I remarked "Well, you're married, I'm asking because I don't know the rules". She thought for a moment and said "we need to take it easy, I will let you know in time".

We both left the exchange energized and happy. I now understand in the heart what I already knew in my mind: the conversation topic is largely irrelevant, it's the attention and energy you put into it what makes it flow.