My room is a mess, growing up, little more than a closet turned on its side and dumped. The floorboards lost beneath a pile of broken plastic and clothes, both clean and dirty. No one ever comes over the play. At the top of her lungs my mother decrees that I am grounded until it is cleaned. No TV, no computer. Not until your room is clean. And I believe her. I believe everyone.
I assume, despite experience, that the words coming out of your mouth are meant to make true the shapeless thoughts in your brain. Not that I don’t understand that they are the tip of significance, that beneath them exists a great and deep well, all of our possessions, a basement, a foundation, topsoil, a mantle, and the earth. I get it, that words are insufficient to explain our psyche.
The boss declares in an all staff meeting that everyone must fill out a self-evaluation and that if they do not take it seriously, they will not receive a quality evaluation back. If you write three sentences, your evaluation back will be three sentences. And so, when she and I, in charge of writing evals, go over the completed forms, she wants to know why R’s is smaller than the rest. He only wrote two sentences in his self-eval. But you still need to be thorough. And the two of us gawk at each other, each unable to understand the words hung in sharp bubbles above the other’s head.
I will take the trash out. Let’s hang out on Friday. I love this project and want to work on it.
I am not talking about lies. Some people lie. Sometimes I lie. I am not talking about sarcasm, or humor, or storytelling. Sometimes works are put together to create art, a falsehood embellished to highlight a greater truth. I can incorporate that.
I miss you. To me means that you wish we were in the same town, at the same time, and could hang out.
I love you. Means that you see in me, more than in others, a light you wish to bask in, a life you wish to share.
I will call you back this weekend. Means you will call back this weekend.
Meet me next Tuesday at 3pm on the corner of Maple and Main. Means I will be standing in that place at that time, waiting.
Have I missed something? Is everyone in advertising? Where the words are selected for the way they play on the wallet-control section of the brain, for their pretty faces, for their ability to conceal more than elucidate, to throw shadow more than light. Are words more make-up than flesh?
A student on the spectrum will call me out on a regular basis for saying that we are going to spend 15 minutes on a project. I’ll let it stretch. My classroom is not so strict as to be held down by any great limit of time. But I said 15 minutes. Not around, or about, or let’s start with 15 minutes and see how it goes. I have declared. And I am reminded when that time passes. And he is right. And I am wrong.
Sometimes words mean nothing. When they are said, when they are clear, when they have intent and use, the person saying them knows there is nothing, or something else, behind them. They are the mouth of a muppet with the sound turned down. Sometimes whatever is being said simply means go away.
Words mean something. They have to mean something. If they don’t, if they are just pliers, or burkas, or playing cards, or street signs, or irrelevant, or vacuums, or clubs, or phone booths, or scissors, or glasses half-empty, or pacifiers then I have wasted my life looking for the best way to say.
I have wasted my life in translation, from soul to cerebellum to soul. I have spent the best of myself on outdated equipment. I am a fool in a ruse. A dumb boy in a filthy room.