Charcoal sketch by the fireplace. Low light, sepia-colored photograph with blackened thumb and forefinger. Crying tears, makeup runs, mascara turns Beauty Queen into Horror Show. Sleeping in it takes the mask, imprinting it on pillowcase and part of sheet. Hair Metal bands, Green Day circa 2004-5. Jack Dawson Titanic. Back to the drawing. My sweaty hands on homework, on any piece of paper, any book. Pencil strokes become distant watercolors, wet pen marks and the accidental hand gliding across. A+ with a vapor trail. B+ as cascading stars or something. Nothing’s changed except the knowledge that the letters don’t mean anything anymore. But back to the sweaty hands; Embarrassment, shame, don’t look at me. I’m afraid for anyone to look at me. Surprised when anyone remembers me. Don’t you know what it’s like to feel this way?
Circlet, bracelet, mandala. Connectivity. Your mother’s protractor. How does a tree trunk know to grow so round? I had to really think about what a circlet was. A crown of sorts. Skyrim vocabulary. A game I haven’t played in likely over a year. Golden bands. Seems ancient. It would make me anxious to have to wear it, whether jewel-encrusted or just plain. What differentiates a circlet from a tiara? Does it even matter in this increasingly democratized society? Ripples on a pond behold the lake in a similar fashion to the circlet, a crown, on the head of a princess, does it not? Nature rules all. That is one of the many secrets to life. Circles on dart boards, spheres in the shapes of oranges and globes. How did they figure that out? What a marvel. I wonder how heavy a circlet would be? Probably weighted. A sure way to get a headache. Golden curtains, royalty.
I grew up in a northern New Jersey suburb. My family moved into this house August of 1994. I was three-years-old. I’ve spent nearly all my life here. And ever since I can remember, there has always been a magnolia tree growing right outside the bay window in the front yard. When I was younger, I used to climb that tree. I used to climb that tree until my feet were too big for its branches, before my mind became preoccupied with matters of perhaps a more practical, pragmatic sort. A time when my imagination ruled and was prioritized above all else.
This tree has always been a mainstay, but the blossoms would only last for a few days, maybe a week. Every Spring the firm buds on the tips of every branch would blossom and bloom to white and pink magnolia flowers. Their fragrance, unmistakable perfume. The petals would soon thereafter fall on the front lawn, making it look like snow from behind the corrugated glass panels on the front door. If you stole a glance from the top of the stairs, where the front door is squarely situated at the bottom, you could easily forget what season it was if it weren’t for the temperature. These fallen petals would then soon rot and decay; The rain would make them slippery and soft and these delicate petals would soon turn brown and dark. Their peak is always short. And perhaps like all things, die too quickly. These petals would get stuck to your shoes and get tracked into the house.
But I used to climb this tree as a child, situating my feet in firm footholds where thick branches would intersect with the trunk, or with other thick branches, the tree always higher than I could possibly climb it. Glancing up, I remember behold it’s top against the sky wishing I could climb higher if it weren’t for more delicate branches preventing me from doing so. Birds would cry out, wary of my presence in a tree they undoubtedly considered home. Climbing up, I can still feel the rough bark against my hands as I bent my knees and balanced between branches, hoping to get to the highest point where I would then sit on the branch and look down at the yard, satisfied, tasting the fresh air of the summer or autumn. I was never afraid, because my father usually wasn’t far, watching me and making sure I was careful. Coming down, I was sure to watch my step, balancing my weight with my descent, making sure my hands had a firm grip on the rough bark, jumping back down on the soft grass when I was done playing.
Peaches are golden goodness, true nectar of the gods. Sticky, sweet, juicy bites. I like my peaches sliced, maybe with a dash of cinnamon. They’re best alone but also great in jams or pies. The best peaches this summer came from the Livingston Farmer’s Market. My mom would bring them home and I could easily eat a pound. Another great memory of peaches includes this past summer, when I went to the beach with Cass and Marie. We went to Seaside Heights and had a wonderful day. I had brought sliced peaches (from the Livingston Farmer’s Market) as a snack. And we shared the juicy fruit. There is nothing like the cool, sweet nectar of a peach dribbling down your throat and chin in the summertime; The heat of the warm summer sun, the taste of salt in the air, ocean waves crashing, gulls crying out. Summer days like that are why I’m glad I grew up in New Jersey and nowhere else. Out of season peaches are traitors. Previously frozen peaches are traitors. There is nothing worse than a mealy peach, or one stuck to the pit. It is so frustrating and disappointing when you get a peach like that. It’s probably one of the reasons why Farmer’s Markets are superior to supermarkets.
This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt entitled, Verbal Ticks:
Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?
YO. I am 100% guilty on this; I have way too many verbal ticks. Also “texting ticks”. They’re slightly different but definitely within the same vein.
Off the top of my head some of my most frequented verbal go-tos are, “That’s wild”, “For real?”, “No worries”, and “Word”. The “texting ticks” are kind of an extension of these. Instead of “Word” I’ll say, “Word up”. I also use “No prob” and “Sure thing”. I use “Yo” a lot too, verbally and with text.
It’s funny ’cause now that I think about it, I did have another word I overused that eventually (thankfully) found its way out of my vocabulary. That word was, “Trillz” – Slang for “True that”. I picked it up from a friend of mine at the time who always used it and it stuck like super-glue for years. I would continue using it, even though I was sometimes the only one who knew what it meant. I remember going to college my first year and using it in conversation and some people were like, “Huh?” or “Did you just say, ‘Trillz’?”. It was a trip. UGH. That’s another one I use. Sometimes to describe something crazy or unorthodox, instead of saying “That’s crazy” or “That’s wild”, I’ve now been resorting to “That’s a trip” or “What a trip!” or “It was a trip!” in describing something out-there, mind-blowing, unbelievable, an experience. But I digress. “Trillz” eventually progressed into “True”, which progressed into “Word”/”Word up”. I use the latter more frequently now. Must be all the Hip-hop I listen to or something…
It’s interesting to see how little catch-phrases and slang have such an impact on our conversational dialect and how often it’s understood by others, even if they don’t use it themselves. I’m not educated enough to know whether or not this phenomenon exists in other languages aside from English, but I suspect it does. It seems only natural, right? My Nonna pulls a few words from her sleeve from time to time. She’s a riot.
All in all though, I’m glad these verbal ticks do exist despite there potential annoyance. Think about how boring talking would be if we were straight-laced dictionary nerds. Slang and catch-phrases liven things up. It makes things fun. The words we use on our day-to-day basis are a reflection of our character, an outer extension of who we are. Not only do we communicate to one another through the interchange of words, but we communicate who we are by putting our demeanor on display and maybe even flaunting our vocabulary a little bit so we may be authentically understood. We speak who we are and we are what and how we speak, right?
But is it our true selves shining through? Or perhaps the projection or portrayal of who we want to be viewed as when the outside world is looking in…