Saturday, October 17, 2009

love and language

I often feel that "love" is an inadequate word. Sure, I use it all the time. But that's the problem. It's become such an integral part of most people's conversations that it starts to lose its power.

I love chocolate. I love my new phone. I love sleeping in. I love soft blankets. I love kittens. I love seeing the sun rise. I love walking on a beach when no one else is around. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my boyfriend. I love reading. I love shopping.

Each of these objects (for lack of a better word) of my love holds significance for different reasons. There are different implications attached, some of which are obvious by their context, and others of which are a bit more ambiguous. For instance, what is the difference between my love of sleeping in and my love of blankets? Both "objects" bring me comfort. But not in quite the same way. One is more tactile and the other is more mental/emotional.

Recently in class, one of my professors said that, contrary to popular belief, eskimoes do not have 30-some ways of saying "snow." But that got me thinking about the English language and how some very complicated concepts are condensed to simple and limiting verbal expressions.

I'm curious to know if any other languages have multiple words that express the diversity of "love." I don't mean simply tacking on a modifier: romantic love, friendly love, etc. I mean one lexical unit exists for a specific connotation, another lexical unit exists for another connotation, etc. This could be an interesting research project.

I think too much when I'm home sick.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I had bought it on sale. It was a simple red hoodie with no real emotional value attached to it. I mean, I'd worn it lots of times over the past year, but there wasn't a moment that stood out in my mind where that hoodie was prominent. Now, my red dress from Deb, that's a different story. I wore that silky little thing to two important events, and it has very special memories attached. This hoodie didn't have that type of history in my sentimental mind.

But as my eyes scoured my hotel room before sealing the luggage one last time, I suddenly realized that my hoodie was nowhere to be found. After some intense rewinding through the past few days, I concluded that I must've left it at a certain restaurant the previous day. I called there, but apparently no one had found it.

Feeling sad but not overwhelmingly so, I finished up the last-minute things and left the hotel. Without thinking much would come of it, I decided to stop at the restaurant since there was a bit of extra time. Why not inquire in person just in case?

I walked in and felt rather silly, inquring about a red hoodie. The host said he hadn't seen it, but would look around one more time. A few minutes later, I heard him say, "Is this it?" as he held up a little red garment. I was surprised at how happy I felt when I nodded in affirmation and swiped my lost-now-found possession from his grasp.

I know this will sound a bit absurd. But it was like, for a moment, I was claiming back a part of myself. I suddenly felt oddly attached to that hoodie, which, before then, had only been a nondescript member of my full-to-bursting closet. Just seeing it there, being held by a stranger, having been in some drawer (where "no one would have thought to look for it") since the previous day, made me feel strangely sentimental. I held onto it throughout the journey home and felt comforted by its softness and warmth.

I know you're not supposed to get attached to "things." They are material and superficial and not important in the scheme of things. But really, they are important. They're certainly not more important than love and family and friends, but they're not meaningless, either. And we shouldn't feel guilty for valuing our "possessions." In our fast-paced and fleeting lives, it's okay to have something to hold onto.