It started with the dictionary I keep on my desk, a big old heavy Oxford with 1000 + pages of words. Which got me to wondering when the last time I used a physical dictionary as opposed to an online dictionary was. Which got me to waxing poetical, in my head, about the magic and might of words. Which made me think of how words can lift you up, give you the wings to soar above the clouds, Icarus like. Or how words, like the sun, can melt those wings in an instant and send you plummeting to the ground.
Yesterday I posted something on Facebook. I am a keen user of Facebook and often it is an outlet for my snark (see: sarcastic). What started off as a moment (in my head) of progressive triumph quickly turned into something else. And in my haste to clarify my own position, I fear I may have offended a very dear friend. This is one of my oldest friends, one I have know since I was seven (so, for a few years…). We went to school together, whispered about boys and sex together, shared wine coolers together on a starry night dreaming of bigger things. We live very different lives now, but I respect her and cherish our friendship. No matter how long between our visits, we can pick up where we left off, laugh at ourselves, and fall back into the kind of rhythm that is difficult to come by. Especially nowadays. Especially when you don’t live in one place long enough to make those kind of friends. (See: Ex-pat)
I meant no offense by my words, but I fear they were offensive nonetheless. Sometimes, especially as a writer, you get caught up in words. When you are in a flow, when they are coming quick and fast and painlessly, you just want to get them out because you don’t know when it’s going to happen again. It’s a heady feeling. The world is there, literally, at your fingertips. A direct conduit from your brain to the page. Words have the power to illuminate. The power to educate. The power to change. But they also have the power to wound, to sear and to scar.
The first time my husband told me he loved me, I had to excuse myself and go and put my head between my knees because I was so overcome I thought I was going to be sick. The first time a doctor told me there was a little heartbeat inside me, blinking away, I was moved to tears. When one of my sons, in a fit of anger tells me he hates me, it hurts, as if he is chipping a little piece of my heart away. When my father told me that he was grateful for the life he had lived, that he was not afraid of dying, it tore my soul into tiny jig-saw pieces that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to fit back together. So many times in one’s life when words are more than just letters lumped together on a page, in a speech bubble, in a thoughtless comment. Words are what you remember, what you use to express yourself, what you use to escape and define and change and grow. But sometimes they hurt.
So to my dear friend, here are a few more: I am sorry if I hurt you.