balloon_kidsSmall talk is very big these days and I’d like to blame this on the US invasion of Iraq. Not that I don’t enjoy generalized conversation. I’m actually quite good at it – heck, I can talk about horses until the cows come home!

But seriously, it’s tricky belonging to a country at war. War forces each of us to choose which camp to call home; you’re either for it or against it. The worst part for me is when I realize that I’m becoming friends with someone from the other camp.

We’ve all been there; things have been going along great and then you reach that point of knowing; that moment when the one thing you DON’T have in common floats to the surface like a turd in a punch bowl. In that moment you must decide whether to test the friendship or take a step backwards and freeze it at the acquaintance level.

I know others struggle with this phenomenon. I see it in their eyes when they scramble to keep the conversation light. It reminds me of that game kids play with a balloon – you know, the one where you can’t let the balloon hit the ground. Our words take a turn in the wrong direction and we’re all thinking: “Watch out! We’re starting to talk about something that may lead to unstable ground! Quick, change the subject to something light – keep it up in the air!”

It ‘s a catch 22. If I choose to forge ahead, sharing my feelings, I will only widen the gap between us and if I choose to avoid the topic of war and peace I compromise trust, and eventually respect. Either way, we are destined to remain polarized.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.