i like words. i study them. they are tiny vessels that bear meaning as cargo. i like weaving them together, mulling over them in my mind. searching through the lifetime’s worth of a database to find the right ones to explain how i feel or what i think.
words have an extraordinary amount of power. they can build up, tear down, and everything in between. they’ll haunt you, ghosting about the corners of your mind like some specter that just won’t let you go, some spirit with the sole unfinished business of causing that twinge in conscience or memory. sometimes they’re a comfort to be snuggled up to like a warm blanket on a cold, rainy day.
“No one has a prosperity so high and firm that two or three words can’t dishearten it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
i have some of both, of course. snippets of conversation that make up memories like the patchwork on a quilt. good with the bad. some are odd combinations. some are just odd, period. sentences that seem meaningless, but that carry something beyond the simple definition in context. i keep the good ones like treasures and try to forget the bad, but sometimes they hover.
“No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.” Henry Brooks Adams
i’ve spent huge amounts of time learning foreign words, as well. sometimes when i lived in poland, i’d find that the polish or german phrasing for what i wanted to say fit my meaning better than the english. there were times that i felt more at home using words in other languages, when i just couldn’t get my point across — even in my own mind — in english. that still happens on occasion, but more rarely. i wrote the following over easter in the spring of 2006 when i went to visit my roommate for the holiday in spain:
I am reminded that it truly is worth all the pain to learn. Every tongue-twisting syllable, every elusive vowel or unfamiliar cluster of consonants, every foot-in-mouth moment or awkward silece, that panicky deer-in-the-headlights feeling–it all is worth it for just one second. Just one second where you can tangibly feel that you have left your own world behind and become one with another. The lights come on and for an instant, you understand. Comprehension dawns in a moment where no translation could retrieve the true meaning of what you heard in its original form, untarnished, with your own two ears.
That’s why I try. And that’s why it’s worth it.
even in english, those moments come so rarely. that sense of connection, that mental conduit that links two minds in conversation. call it whatever you want. being on the same wavelength, whatever. it all works. those moments are priceless.
i can remember some very specific words that cut me deep, as well. even letting my mind play them out for me again is like pouring lemon juice in a paper cut the size of manhattan. it’s amazing the power they have. little symbols on papers or screens, half the time spouted out without much thought for the damage they can cause. the other half they time, they can be interpreted in such a personal way that they were never really meant to be taken. so much is context.
and yet in spite of the power they have, in spite of the thousands upon thousands of words that linger in my mind in many different languages, accents, tones — in spite of all that — i am sometimes surprised to realize that the most touching and beautiful moments in life are those that require no words.
if i look back over the years, it’s really those moments that i remember. above all else. the most precious memories in my little treasure chest are snapshots of time without any language besides what passes naturally between people. as much as i can describe them, write them down, try to explain how they made me feel, it’s never enough. but i can go back in my mind and remember, and the emotions come back.
so that’s that. i wish i had words for this feeling right now. eight days, and my life is going to change again. another big change. i feel like this year has come full circle. but i feel like in some ways, the events of last spring were the mistake, and now i’m setting off to where i am supposed to be. i’ve felt for a long time (years) that the east coast was probably the best place in america for me. going there now feels right. there are a multitude of other things there. this sense of anticipation is woven with so many different threads from so many different sources. if may of 2008 was chaos, may of 2009 is the serenity that comes with everything simply falling into place. it will all be….just fine.
there’s so much to look forward to. there are glimmers in my head of places to go, explore, make my own. a new life to build. and make mine. this life that’s been coalescing around me for months now. months of planning and thinking. i want to write. to tell this adventure with words. keep track as it unfolds beneath my wandering feet. it’s the exact right thing for me to do. i couldn’t be happier.
there’s nervous in there too. but in spite of that, i know — i feel — that this is what i need to do. for me. for my own future. to not regret immobility and stagnation. i think it’s time for a change.
so as the clock winds down, and as the seconds tick by inexorably toward the time when my plane’s wheels will part from the runway like a farewell kiss, i’ll savor every indescribable feeling. every moment of tingling anticipation. and i’ll smile. cos it’s time to leave it all behind and start fresh. no going back. only moving forward. time to go find my niche.