The Words I Was Looking For

I love the escape of a wandering mind.

I love picking apart the words of Sylvia Plath and Rumi till they blossom into meaningful lessons in my soul.

I love days where the rain falls and slows the world down, because it gives me an excuse to recoil.

I love getting lost in the lives of characters I trace in books, only to have them slip into my dreams as figures I can touch.

I love cups of coffee from underneath sheets warmed by the morning sun, wrapping me in a plea not to be left for the real world but exist in another.

My favorite memories are of the times I laid in bed with my mother clutching Judy Bloom and periodically peaking over the pages to see her beautiful face etched with concentration. I would mimic the way she flipped the pages slowly as to not jumble the sentences she had just read, or maybe the world she was gradually building around her. This was her form of coping, escaping into yet another novel. A way to forget the pain she felt every day, the illness that progressed every year.

“I would love to write a book,” she confessed.

I developed a love for words very early on, and I attribute that to her. I was always oddly fascinated by sophisticated words and how adults seemed to know a language I wasn’t allowed to have access to quite yet. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to sound like that, to be able to hand people thoughts in the form of well-polished articulations.

As I grew older so did my appreciation for deeper pieces; book, poems, anything that moved me. I admired authors and poets that could write even the saddest of scenarios in ways that were hauntingly beautiful. How incredible it is, the way a writer can fasten words to a needle and stitch them to every inch of your skin. Weaving new ideas and lessons into a part of you that is only worn with time. Sometimes even giving us a whole new skin altogether – even if it’s only till the last page.

This is what kept me coming back.

Growing up with a sick mother, people were always urging me to speak about how I felt and about what was going on in my life. I had been a relatively shy and soft-spoken kid, always pensive and clinging to comfort. I was terrified of speaking up; afraid that my tongue would fail my thoughts and that the words wouldn’t come out as polished as I hoped in that moment. I was only discouraged more by the repeated struggle to express something that no level of vocabulary could develop into something that made sense to me.

Like my mother, I took to hiding in pages of words and stories as my form of escape. Paperbacks have never asked me to talk and step outside of my introverted tendencies, poems have never lured me to express how I was feeling but rather give me a chance to exist in what was once someone else’s idea, reality, sorrow, joy, or love. It is no secret that sometimes feeling other people’s emotions is easier than dealing with your own.

As I got older I remained pensive and comfortable with being more introverted than most. I started keeping journals around the places I dwelled. I use them to try to master the art of threading my own thoughts and feelings into needles that attempt to stitch up the gap that lies between my exhausted thoughts and my apprehensiveness to speak them.

Sometimes the words I write are my own, and sometimes they are quoted fragments of someone else’s work that have spoken to me in uncanny ways.

At 20, I’ve learned there is something unique in the appreciation of written words, a willingness to experience their effects. Their ability to awaken, aid, heal, relate, express, and give a voice to the otherwise timid. The worlds they open up and lives they allow you to taste. The lesson that sometimes you’re lucky enough to pull out of their assemblages, like what may haven seemed like the wrong words could actually have been the ones you were looking for all along.

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