Favorite Words

A recent conversation went along the following lines:

Me: Do you have a favorite word?
Friend 1: No.
Me: No?
Friend 1: Yes, no.
Me: No, as in the word or no, you have no favorite?
Friend 1: Yes.
Me: That’s a horrible word!
Friend 2: I like scum.
Me: Scum.
Friend 1: No scum!
Friend 2: It’s a noun, an adjective, a verb. Scum is really versatile.
Friend 1: Especially on your shower door.
Me: Well, that’s better, I guess. I was thinking along the lines of syzygy. It’s unusual, with wonderful meaning and even design, with the only vowels “y”
Friend 1: No!
Friend 2: It’s not a palindrome like scum.
Me: I don’t think palindrome means what you think it means.
Friend 1: Mirror image words.
Me: Right.
Friend 2: Sure. That’s scum.
Me: No.
Friend 1: See! There’s a reason it’s my favorite.

I tried to send them back, but the store doesn’t permit exchange or refund on friends. All sales are final.

Hot Day Cold

Outside, it’s hot. Hotter than summer has been and muggy. The humidity joins with the heat to create a fog of sweat – causing sticky sauna fumes that moisten your clothing and stick to your skin. You expect this sort of sweltering miasma in the middle of July or the dog days of August. Sirius didn’t get the memo, though and has moved his blitz to September.

In the meantime,  the office is so cool that there’s condensation running down the glass of the building like you’re walking into a giant glass of lemonade. In fact, the stickiness from outside lingers and crusts, drying upon your skin in the chill. To exacerbate this, my desk is directly under the air conditioning vent. I sit here shivering with my dried sweat flaking and I can feel my vocal chords tightening, my voice growing huskier and hoarse while the post nasal drip becomes my new coworker, peering over my shoulder and irritating while I try to work.

This is the weather that finds it easiest to make people sick. Schools spread new germs, but add to that the summer sickness from temperature extremes lurking to capitalize on weakened immune system. For someone like me in remission with an autoimmune disorder, it’s a woeful threat impending!

Let autumn find its way here soon!

Silence

There should be a hundred different words to describe silence because it falls into a thousand variations, each with their own mood and meaning. How inadequate is our language to provide us with only the one? And the offerings presented within a thesaurus are doubly insufficient for the needs.

Think for a moment of the silence you hear when you step outside in the evening when a large snowfall has recently ended. The crisp air, the white blanket muffling the world and the dark sky overhead work together to quell all noises. When you stand out in it — I remember doing so in the middle of the street as a child, watching the streetlights on either end of the block changing with no cars, or bikes, or people in view — the world in silence feels open and wide, but private to behold. All of it, the snow, the clouds, the silence is there for you, so long as you can stand the chill.

Compare that to the silence of sorrow, once your tears are done and breathing has slowed. Sitting on the floor with the old carpet against your skin, your clothing rumpled and askew, but the exhaustion that drags upon body and mind too great to muster the effort to rearrange or adjust them, and so you remain still. Around you, the world is silent, leaving you to your grief, your self-awareness, and the strange sense of being separated from the rest of the world by a nonexistent pane of glass that keeps you in the emptiness.

How can the same word apply to these both? What of the silence you share with a companion who understands and feels no need to invade or break the instance of communion? All of these are unique, distinct, and deserving of recognition, yet the only word that seems to apply is still the tempered, tentative and wholly inadequate silence.

Aching

The dull throb sometimes escalates into agonizing wrenching pain. I feel used, abused, and wrung out like a dishrag. Damp and discarded,  without a thought of mildew, I’ve been left at the side of the sink, still wound taut and unable to release the painful twists that I’ve been wrapped within. Fold after agonizing fold has been left with the ignominious water-soaked crumbs; invaders now trapped and ignored, now to rot.

Unmitigating agony, the dull pain just continues unrelentingly. Sharp anguish might be easier to bear, for it doesn’t roll across you like the uncaring tide, breaking and eroding with each and every wave, no end in sight. Such pain is not for the weak of will or heart.

As much as I hate visiting the doctor, it’s time to seek a renewal of my prescription for migraine relief.

Conversationally

I have discovered recently that while I consider politeness important and quite routinely offer salutations as a matter of course in the context of “I see you, but have no conversation to engage in,” I am similarly guilty of the inverse. I find it perfectly reasonable when I feel like having a conversation with someone to skip all formality and begin.

Is this unusual? I have been led to believe by reactions that it is, but not unpleasant. Some (most?) find it engaging, if unconventional,  that conversations with me begin as if they had previously commenced. Once in a while I do receive the critique that it often requires a moment of orientation, however, since “normal” people wonder what caused the random remarks initially since there was no prior meeting of the minds to arrive at such inquiries or thoughts.

Is there some social contract I willingly eschew from to step out of my reflective and often introverted self and engage others? Or is it a matter of the modern era as opposed to eccentricity that causes me to maintain certain civility while ignoring the etiquette of refined nothings where they offer little benefit and merely lengthen the time needed for conversation.

Perhaps this is a product of our era, where distractability is perfectly normal and more and more people find themselves incapable of parsing through the not so proverbial wall of text in search of the catch phrases or hashtags necessary to attempt to relate in the high pace of the modern world? But I still draw the line at rudeness. Saying how do you do seems so impractical since people rarely provide a real, truthful response. “I’m fine.” Even when they aren’t.  Social etiquette demands such canned replies, so why engage in the dance if you can head straight into what really matters.

The openers for my conversations vary from, “I could use your opinion on X,” to a truthful observation, to a random question to have answered. Yes, I’ve even started with, “so, what is your favorite color?” Not for any purpose outside of my own curiosity.  Perhaps a little eccentric, but not half so trite as the routine muttering. It doesn’t alter the need for please and thank you. Should I correct my behavior? I’m yet to be convinced it’s negative enough to bother.

The Insidious Presence

This is how I begin to view my grief. It is an insidious presence that has infiltrates my world. It permeates through my existence; dulling my sight, draining my energy, echoing every breath with a whispered reminder of loss. At first it stung like a wound, where the person beloved was ripped away, but now it has spread as a festering infection, tampering my ability to feel whole again. Like the infected torn hangnail, it doesn’t impede normal activity, but it throbs and irritates. It reminds regularly, “you are not whole.”

Life goes on. Nobody argues that. Every day continues, but Grief, this new companion steps in time with you. Silent, it is not a companion to gain any comfort from. He is not kind. He does not care. He is a shadowed stranger who just follows you to let you know that you have lost someone. Some people are good at blocking him out or losing him in a crowd. But like any irritant,  he will inevitably reemerge,  jabbing you with a sharp elbow in the gut for having lost him for any time.

In short, Grief has become a permanent bastard for me.

I suppose this truly makes sense in some ways. No matter what happens, that loss will always be there. When a person dies, all that he was is gone. All his potential, all of his promise is frozen and halted. The memories linger and some can even bring smiles and joy, but there can be no change. Until that inevitable finish, however unexpected or swift, or foreseen or slow, there is always a mutability. People do change. Every moment of every day we change. Upon death, we do not. We cannot. It is a petrification of the person that once was, casting a shadow upon your life.

For some, the resulting insidious presence is minimal. It hurts at first and gradually becomes less and less as you walk away, never fading entirely, but muting as you find the sun. The greater the impact a person has upon you; the closer you are in the day to day; in the routines of life, the worse this nasty intruder, Grief, becomes. The shadow follows you, for the stone that has been left, the unchanging monument in your life that does not erode and does not disappear is too tall and too wide. It casts a shadow too strong to escape or avoid. And as the sun passes across the sky, you may find times free from that shadow, but inevitably, that presence returns.

Strange Dreams

I have always been subject to vivid, story-oriented, memorable dreams. Even some that I had as a child have remained with me across the years. Colors, odors, even textures are memorable, often as plot devices. I suppose I have always been an escapist and my dreams have always offered an alternate reality. Not necessarily a better one, but a different one. Needless to say, across the past month I have been a frequent visitor.

Last night’s dream was no exception. It began with a course in an amphitheater classroom, very mathematical and computer science heavy. Sitting next to me was the man I have lost, looking nothing like he did, except when he was younger. We both understood quite easily and some other would be suitors were astonished that I chose him, but how could they know how brilliant and beautiful his mind was and how in synch with mine he could be? The silliness and absurdity was present as well, when listening to the lecture, I caught him chewing on the very end of my hair. (It is long, though it was odd it took me so long to notice.) When I questioned him, he sheepishly admitted that it was something cats do, so he wanted to try it and it was nice. (At least in his opinion – I still found it odd.)

We went with a group to head back to the dorms and I took of my shoes to walk through the grass, even though it was dark. The grass was damp. I couldn’t tell if it was from a late summer evening’s dew or from a recent rain. He held out his arm to get me to stop, startling me, not to mention the frog I had nearly stepped upon. I began to watch the ground as I walked, hopping, myself as the frogs ran out of the way from others, nearly ending up in my path. We all began leaping and laughing, heading towards the sidewalk.

But when we got to the sidewalk, there was the most horrific of “team-building” exercises. There were snakes on perches. Some were rust and brown colored, some were greens, and some were black or black and cream. We were warned by other people running the gauntlet ahead of us, that some of the snakes were poisonous, but not all. So we started meandering through and it was relatively easy to avoid them, mostly. That is, until we reached a part of the path that had four of them placed in a row and all were agitated. We halted, watching a man, bitten and poisoned, writhing until he was carried away. “We should move slowly, so as not to upset them further,” I murmured to him, and though he nodded, a woman thrust her way between us, running at top speed to be struck by one.

And this was when my alarm sounded, waking me. I don’t know that it had any meaning attached, but it was interesting and left me questioning what the conclusion might have been.