Stories have been a part of humans since before time. Collections of words someone has woven together, tighter than the seams of your shirt. It’s quite incredible really. Whole worlds pop into existence, layer upon layer of details. Authors create people with more detailed backgrounds than you and me, people so real you can almost hear their heartbeat. It all stems from the words you use. In reality, words have already written the story for you if you look closely. Words have a persona, a background, a conscience. Words can flow out of your mouth like your favorite song. They can break you down and bury you far, far, underground.
One of my personal favorites is Galoshes. Back in the day, people wore them over their shoes when it was raining, as they were essentially waterproof overshoes. But Galoshes as a word doesn’t just refer to boots. He is a child that splashes around in puddles and squats down to pick up the wriggly pink worms that have escaped the wet soil. A boy with tawny hair like a lion’s mane, forgotten in time and overshadowed by more everyday words. Galoshes runs out in the rain donning his matching neon yellow rain jacket and boots, shouting incoherently with joy. Galoshes is the child in each friend group, unfiltered, unpredictable and everyone’s secret favorite.
So you see words are more than just their dictionary definition. Still don’t believe me? Take Petrichor. With a wave of her hands, she summons the refreshing mist of water after months of dryness. Petrichor is the first breath of air that you gasp in after being submerged. The feeling of relief, the safehouse that ensures you that there is still hope. She loves Galoshes dearly as if he was her own child. Galoshes will run to her whenever he needs to, gushing about all the things he did at school that day. Petrichor, while elderly and worn-out, will listen to the end of her days. She lives for the rain, and with every drop that hits the earth, she seems to age backward. Her wrinkles disappear and her hair turns a rich chestnut brown. She breathes in the peculiar, earthy smell of life.
Iridescent comes next, the spectrum of colors created after the puddles dry up and the sky smiles. Her jeans are just as paint-splattered as her canvases. She is a character who sees the world in different hues than just the stacked silver tubes of pigment on her shelves. Her brushstrokes turn animate, so real that the faces smile and the landscapes move in the breeze. She and Galoshes are often seen painting together, a set of Crayola finger paints set aside just for him. His smudged drawings decorate her walls, sticking out beside her breathtaking art. Iridescent has plans waiting for her at the end of the rainbow, and she waits for no one.
Iridescent may operate in expanding the colors of this world, but Syzygy is only looking to the worlds beyond. Syzygy is the friend who will drag you out at 2 A.M. to look at the stars and cosmos beyond. The stunning contrast of brilliant white stars against inky blackness never ceases to amaze him. Iridescent has had more requests for galaxy paintings from him than either would bother to remember. Syzygy loves to watch people try and pronounce his name, laughing as he explains the astronomical meaning behind it. “An alignment of celestial objects!” is practically his middle name, he says it so much. Syzygy is calculated and precise, never leaving the house without a ruler and protractor. Scoring top of his class, but hysterically out of the loop when it comes to social skills. He lives for lunar and solar eclipses, going around the world to be in the path of the blotted out light.
And who could forget dear old Melancholy, a friend and father figure to all? He is the song in a minor key that croons about all the bittersweet. The goodbyes and the farewells. Melancholy is New Orleans, the Crescent City itself. A street player who’s putting his soul into a saxophone in the heart of the French Quarter. His music fills the streets like a river of honey. No one’s sure when Melancholy retires to his tucked away corner house, but he and his music rise with the sun.
Melancholy’s daughter, his very pride and joy, is none other than Lullaby. Lullaby is a delicate, fond memory of a childhood some have forgotten. Lullaby organizes the soothing voice of a mother and the deep baritone of a father so they work in harmony. Fuzzy dreams of twinkling chimes above a crib, squishy pacifiers, and a baby’s giggle. She’s a constant and continuous buoy you can trust to grab onto. Lullaby glows with a golden aura, a young mother who has just discovered a fierce and unbreakable type of love.
When the time comes to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket in front of a roaring fire, Inglenook emerges. He and Lullaby share their warmth during those cold months when snow blows gently on the windowpane. Inglenook props weathered books up on his knees, turning the pages idly. He sleeps curled in a ball like a big tabby kitten, his ginger hair sticking up. Inglenook sips hot cocoa and delights at the foamy whipped cream mustache on his upper lip. He invites people to his warm, cozy cottage on the edge of a forest where there is always a layer of white powder on the ground. It’s a place where it is acceptable to order as many pizzas as you want and sleep in until the sun stretches across the sky.
After the snow is melted and the world warms, Ethereal shimmers. Ethereal fills the sky with her auroras day after day, and dances in the corner of your eye. She and Iridescent go hand in hand, painting the clouds and singing under the stars. Ethereal radiates the quiet power of a queen, a glorious force to be reckoned with. Her facade is impenetrable, a practiced smile that will not crumble in the face of her foes. She scales mountains just to show the world that she can and she will.
Serendipity’s laughter bubbles over as he and Ethereal climb above the sunrise, often coming home with more experiences than he can count. Serendipity is adored by all, Galoshes’ biggest competitor. Whether for his hilarious clumsiness or simply his all-around happiness, we’ll never know. He introduces his name like a poem, deliberate and over-annunciated, and is notorious for breaking out into song whenever he so pleases. Serendipity always looks to see the brightness in the world, no matter how dark his surroundings are.
It is there, at the tippy top of every mountain, that Serendipity can talk to his favorite colors. Colors are so often overlooked. They have defined images to them, everyone thinks, but that’s not so. Periwinkle is soft and open, never knowing whether the day will be a purple day or a blue day. Cerulean is the cool breeze that playfully swirls around like a carousel. Marigold is bees buzzing, polka-dotted summer dresses, and ice cream melting onto your fingers.
Yet Rouge is everyone’s go-to shade. In fact, Iridescent loves her so much that she made Rouge the first color in her rainbow. Rouge steals the show, though always flawless and classy. She is the Roaring 20s, a vintage photograph in sepia. She skyrockets through swing dances and belts out Josephine Baker, never faltering. Rouge speaks only of elegant things, French words bending gracefully around her pouty lips. She is a French native of course, but so enticing that English-speakers just had to take her.
But I’m sure you’ve caught on, so we must think outside the box. And so I now present one last word, one that I am so glad I discovered.
Ineffable (adj.) - incapable of being expressed in words; inexpressible;
Because some of the most splendid words are the ones that don’t exist. The most beautiful words are the ones that are always on the tip of your tongue, the ones that can’t be conveyed. Defined words are amazing, but the ones that stand out are the ones that even Merriam-Webster or Oxford haven’t documented. Feelings. Emotions. Things all humans feel but can’t ever express to each other with the right words.
The tranquility and inner peace you feel when inside while rain patters against your window. When a friend tells a joke so unfunny that you can’t help but laugh. Pieces of your childhood appearing in unexpected places, from a voice to a taste to a smell. Songs that you haven’t listened to in ages, but you know every single word. Shouting the words along to a radio blasting, annoying everyone and not caring. Happy tears. A stomach full of butterflies. The feeling of a physical book in your hands. Indescribable happiness and inexplicable sadness.
Something as minor as the feeling of wearing your favorite hoodie on a chilly fall day. Something as weighty as the ever-plaguing question of “Why?”. Feelings are more powerful than any man or woman could or will ever dream of understanding. They’re more than an x-ray of your brain or neurological scan can explain.
Words give feelings sounds, effortlessly putting thoughts into sentences. We fill our stories and life experiences with both our emotions and the words representing them. We connect through our words, and as we connect with each other, we grow. We learn and empathize with each other, forming unbreakable bonds. Let’s hope that one day we will be able to describe the mixes of a million emotions we feel with a single, perfect word.
If anything, I want you to remember my words. I hope that my oodles and oodles of sentences will outlast me, and I’ll even go so far as to say that they must outlast me. My words, and their personalities, have made a story that will live on.
Words have characters that are already written if you bother to dig deep enough. Just ask Galoshes and Iridescent, or Rouge and Serendipity. Words are just dying for their stories to be written.