I am horrible at learning foreign languages. I think all three of the german teachers I had throughout high school would vouch for that. I have such a deep appreciation for reading and writing, you would think that I would have a knack for picking up the rules of grammar and sentence structure in foreign languages. However, you would be wrong.
Despite this flaw in my brain design, I am still endlessly fascinated by language, and the way that we connect and communicate with other people. I am intrigued by how many ways you can say “I love you” and “I miss you.” I think it is kind of wonderful that no matter where in the world we are, we are all desperately looking for the words to express the same feelings. More intriguing to me though, is the foreign words that have no direct english translation. For example some words that I desperately wish had english translations include “Koi no yokan” which is Japanese for meeting someone and knowing it isn’t quite love at first sight, but when you meet someone and know that sooner or later, you’re going to fall in love. My personal favorite though is “Mamihlapinatapai” which is used by the Yaghan people, and it is when two people are looking at each other hoping that the other person will offer to do what both parties want, but neither are willing to do. I think this word finally gives meaning to that wonderful moment when two people lock eyes and finally someone decides to lean in and make a move. Arguably one of the best moments we have to look forward to in life.
I think this is why I started writing in the first place. I have so much floating around in my head and I have experienced so many moments in my life where I couldn’t find the right word or collection of words to say what needed to be expressed. I don’t think being a writer makes me any better with words than anyone else, I think it just makes me more observant about the world, and more desperate to express how I feel about what I have found.
I wish that there was a word for the way I feel when I look up and see the sky transitioning from a daytime blue to some kind of wonderful cotton candy masterpiece. The words I have to chose from like “in awe” and “impressed” just do not seem to cut it. So I just keep looking up and watching every night hoping one day it will come to me. Until that moment I finally stumble onto the words I’ve been trying to come to, I will just sit back and be impressed by the way the sky never looks the same two days in a row.
I wish we had a word for the way it feels when you have to tell someone you want to be with that you have to be just friends, either because you know it your heart it won’t work out, or because the timing is off. The words that come to mind for this kind of situation would come down to “disappointment” and “frustration” but even those words don’t seem good enough. I need a word that describes how I feel when it seems as if I am breaking up with someone I never even dated. Until they come up with a better word, I’ll probably just keep writing about all the ways my heart has felt broken in those moments, and all the ways I have tried to put it back together.
I wish we had a word for the way I feel when I see the people I love falling in love. I wish I were able to figure out a word for the way I feel when I see the quiet side glances that two people make across the room when they are in love. “Joy” comes to mind and “blissful” too, but neither is enough. Until Webster comes up with something better, I will just keep basking in the love that fills the room when my friends walk in with the person who gets to take them home at the end of the night. In my humble opinion, we need more words synonymous with love. Until then though, we have side glances and “drive safe” and the wonderful way that our hands seem to fit into someone else's.
I wish we had a word for the way I feel when someone I love is in pain. I wish we had a word that describes the feeling that overcomes me when I look at my best friend and desperately wish I could pick up the hurt in them and carry the load of it myself for a while. For now I will have to settle for “camaraderie” and “sympathy” but I will just keep writing about my friends and all the ways they have saved me. I’ll be damned it I accept words that just don’t measure up.
I don’t know that Webster will be so kind to make my feelings into tangible words before I leave this world one day. Which is a blessing and a curse. Until we find the right words, I guess we’ll just have to leave it to the writers.