Thursday, April 27, 2006

i'm in love, pt. 1...the affair begins...

i didn't realize it until now. actually, it happened a couple of months ago. i was talking to a friend, noticing how he quoted lyrics from all kinds of songs whenever he wanted to express his thoughts. and that's when it hit me.

i was in love.

i witnessed it reflected in him, so i told him so.

i said "you're in love with the words."

and then there was silence as the declaration sank in. it was a profound moment for me because i had just realized i was enthralled, and had been all my life. it was a giddy feeling.

the love affair i've had with words began with the very first grouping of letters to take hold inside my puerile mind. i'm not even sure how old i was at the time or what word it was, but that word became the root from which all other words bloomed. it was the pollen from which the bees of my curiosity would gather the expressions before scattering away to drop new seeds, forming a meadow filled with the burgeoning babys breath of my thoughts.

i was three when i remember first feeling the uncontrollable need to express myself with words i hadn't yet learned. my father had just been killed a couple of days before and i was in a room of mourning adults, a little brown baby girl trying to make her way through the forest of tall timbered legs in charcoal slacks or jet black stockings. when i finally located my mother, she was surrounded by relatives fanning feverishly around her as though the swift cut of the wind across her face had the force to slash through the waves of grief she was drowning in. all i had were disjointed phrases and syllables, my mind still brand new to the task of capturing words and carrying them to pour from my mouth in fully formed sentences. i made my way to stand next to her and placed my hand upon her arm, trying to absorb the pain i felt emanating from her body.

"it okay mommy."

she turned to me, her eyes rimmed in the red signifying her mourning, the gravity of weariness weighing down her shoulders.

"i know, baby," she whispered brokenly. then she pulled me close to her and took a deep breath. those six words sounded like six symphonies. they soothed in their movement, the notes layered with feelings, bountiful with understanding despite the scarceness of syllables. my cheek lay against the course material of her black dress as i listened to her heart beating slowly yet powerfully beneath my ear. the wonderful thing about words is that they know when they're not needed. they recognize the gift of silence, falling back into the shadows, waiting patiently for the next time their presence is needed.

mom and i held onto each other for a little while longer, sharing in the grief of our loss, wrapping ourselves in the comfort of those words, cushioned by the soft wall of that silence.

at age five i again attempted to gather my first armful of budding thoughts, carefully positioning each flower so that the petals would appear irridescent in my mothers eyes. it was a mom poem and it took me half the day to arrange because i wanted it to be perfect.

roses are red
violets are blue
you are my mommy
and i love you

there was no shine to compete with the brightness of her countenance as i thrust into her hands my meticulous arrangement of syllables. i stared up at her with eyes wide, my desire to please her bubbling within me, the need for her approval etched into every movement. she was smiling at me, tears in her eyes as she looked at me with wonder.

"baby, that was beautiful."

i had found my first audience.

i became the tender gardener, eagerly tilling the soil from which my newly formed thoughts would grow, planting seeds i captured in clusters from the forever bloom found within books. one of the first stories i ever read by myself was where the wild things are. initially i was afraid of the illustrations, done in dark and muted colors depicting a little boy and his mischievous monsters. however, as i absorbed the words, i found a kindred spirit in max. he was a 'wild thing' just like me. he could conjure up unfettered images of jungles filled with animated foilage and large hairy beasts baring sharp pointed teeth and an insatiable appetite for tomfoolery.

i sat in my bed on many late nights, a pink sheet patterned with barbie doll images clouded over me as i directed the low bulb lighting from a weakly powered flashlight onto the words and depictions that would gain me entry into worlds unknown of until then. my little tent was my teleporter fueled by the stories hovering like halographs above the pages to wisk me away from an unwanted old reality to revel within the exciting environs of a newly created one.

away from the darkness slithering in stealth up the sides of my bed to brood menacingly just outside my self-made haven.

away from the army of silhouetted scary beings plotting against me in my closet.

away from the pesky little brother whose favorite phrase was "i'm gonna tell momma!"

away from the muffled cries of my mother's continued mourning clawing at the walls.

away from the feelings of insecurity lurking like character assasins within my thoughts.

and with each trip i continued to amass an overflow of idioms, tucking them into my imagination like a plethora of plucked posies awaiting their moment of blooming from my fingers to fall with adolescent grace upon the page.


next installment (and i don't know when that's gonna be damnit) - i'm in love, pt. 2...finding courage in verbs...

QUESTION: when did you fall in love with the things you treasure in your life?