> jumping into life.

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How much, after all, does language shape being? A recent study shows that speaking in different languages can alter personality. (Warning: link is to a big fat pdf.) Personal anecdote agrees. How would I feel about my impending move if I spoke Hawai'ian and hello meant goodbye? If there were only one word for both house and home? What if I were Apache and my sense of morality tied to the placenames of my landscape? What if the stories that shaped my life were based on this one place? Or on none, or on an imaginary place instead? I want a thousand words for rain, one for the rain that falls in the morning so that the world smells like pine pitch and creosote when I wake, and another for the rain that pounds the roof so hard it wakes me from a dream, and another for the mist that rolls over the hills and breaks my heart.

What is a word? It is nothing. My memories don't begin until I began talking. Words have ended my life, and saved it. Sometimes the word silence echoes in my head all day. Rarely silence itself. We laid together until I said, "Leave." But not in so many words, you understand. What I really said was, "I'm sorry." Sticks and stones can't even compete.

A word? Nothing but the vibration of desire against flesh, the rush of breath and the clack of teeth. Cuneiform and graffiti. Oh, how can hello mean goodbye? I don't believe it.

I wonder sometimes at the sensibility of time's arrow impelled by speaking a language that assigns the same word to the concepts "since" and "yet."

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