This understanding was further expanded when I shared a communal silence with my children later that evening. We were focused on different projects, but we were sitting close enough nearly to be touching, and I realized at one point ... I am soothed. I was unhappy fifteen minutes ago, but sitting near my kids, just being in their vicinity, has soothed me. It was a balm, like a lavender bath and chamomile tea and soft new slippers.
1. Hiking or walking together.
2. Writing back and forth on Facebook or a blog or email or (back in the day) letter.
3. Sitting down face to face over coffee or lunch.
4. Phone call/Skype.
Your mileage may vary. I prefer side-by-side interactions to face-to-face ones, and (sometimes) writing ones to talking ones. Any shared activity will do for #1: cooking, shopping, painting, gardening. I also very much enjoy sharing a space with people via the written word—I figure this is either a cause or effect of my identity as a writer. I love sharing thoughts with other people, and my own thoughts are only clear to me once I've written them. Other people's words, as I read them, become like my own thoughts, so writing back and forth can be quite intimate, like wandering through each other's minds. The spoken word, in contrast, can be unwieldy. Things come out of my mouth I don't mean, things I want to take back and edit. Speech flows past my ears too quickly to process. I'm still working on a phrase when another two sentences have gone straight past my brain, which makes it seem like I'm not listening.
The coffee klatsch: we are supposed to love socializing in formalized ways like this—everyone sitting on chairs, static, facing each other, speaking many sentences in turn. That this ever works is nothing short of a miracle. No other social animal does this: in fact, prolonged eye contact is a threat for most mammals. When you narrow it down to two people, it's even more stark; you have nowhere to look but deep into each others eyeballs. Now, let it be said that I have had many a lovely lunch hour with many a lovely friend. When people are sympatico, they're going to enjoy each other's company. But imho, the coffee klatsch is working against you no matter how much you love your pals. For me, I'd rather skip the Starbucks and go for a social stroll. (Funnily enough, I rarely think to suggest this.)
So what's making me happy today, if not this week, is that my husband is coming home tonight. Hurrah!