A word, please?
Just one. It doesn’t have to be a long one. It can be brief; a staccato, one-syllable little word that reflects something totally arbitrary, and is totally meaningless while still maintaining a kind of dignity in the colloquialism for some reason. Just one word. I can suggest some if you’d like: food; tang; zest; lust… how about the word ‘love’?
‘Love’? I thought that word was dead; in fact, I wrote it down several times as such: that love is dead for me; that I don’t believe in the word; that it’s meaningless and frivolous; a filthy, underhanded, greeting card company lie. The word love is indicative of naivety, fluorescent idealism, the beginning of the death of everything you thought to be possible. Why is there a word in existence that denotes such terrible things, for the very simple reason that it indicates such wonderful things? Love makes sublime, doe-eyed assholes of us all. Love is something we trick ourselves into believing in so we can pretend ourselves into happiness. Love is a word that shouldn’t be a word, because it means something completely false. It’s selfish; love is selfish. You love things, and people only so you can keep them for yourself. It’s dirty and shameful and obsessive.
Yet, ‘love’ is thrown around: “I love that song!”; “I love that pie!”; “I love this pen!”; “I love ice cream!” Love, love, love, love, love. We intensely and fervently like something and this is the silly ‘nothing’ word we choose to describe that. There is no originality.
I’m soured on the word – I am a linguist who is annoyed and aggravated with the saccharine, cloying, eye-roll-inducing use of this disgusting, useless word. ‘Love.’ Huh. Who believes in that complete, utter bullshit anyways? ‘Love’… I’d love to meet the rich sonofabitch who came up with that one. Some snake oil salesman. Some overly-poetic person wrought with drunken heartache who rolled the word from his mouth and it came tumbling onto the page like hacked saliva. ‘Love.’
And yet this sensation of a dormant, hibernating feeling begins to emerge, to germinate, when I have not been expecting it; it’s like an infectious, contagious virus this feeling, this despicably awful, all-too-familiar feeling that drops like a heavy weight onto me as I’m going about my daily life as the same person I was yesterday with the same ideas about the semiotic meaning of the word – that one word – that one angry, awful syllable. Suddenly I am reminded of what I felt like when the world was bending around my heart, or maybe when my heart was bending around the world. That word breaks off of me like an ice berg and crumbles into this sea of meaning that I am wading in which surrounds me, growing steadily deeper and more flowering and intense until suddenly I am stranded around a body of brilliant, calm blue water and when I yell out help, a different word escapes: ‘Love.’
I love you, I yell. I loved you ever since you first approached me and sat down beside me at that table so many months ago; I love the sound of your soft-spoken voice and I miss that freeing feeling of looking directly into your eyes when I spoke to you and most of all, I love your sympathetic, wise, confident, comfortable kindess; yes, I yell, that is what I love the most. And I love the ocean and I love looking to the sky and I love being dwarfed by large ghostly bergs of ice that move through the daylight like bathing elephants. I love you, I love you, I love you. The only word that comes from my mouth, the only word I can think to describe remotely what I feel, the only word that is a part of me and can help me from sinking deeper and deeper, is ‘love’. It suddenly encompasses the whole of my thoughts, yearning and desiring and yet, incredibly liberating. ‘Love.’