It seems obvious to me that everyone doing #writersbootcampza would love words; they are the way in which we as writers make sense of the world. Because of this, our love for specific words will change as the world around us changes.
My 5 favourite words at the moment are interesting I think… Well, see for yourself –
Soporific I have adored this word since I was a teenager. I love saying it and I love feeling it and I love that, to me, it sounds exactly like what it means. The definition is “inducing drowsiness or sleep”. Every time I see it, say it or even read it, I get a clear image of lying on a couch in a room flooded by late afternoon Summer sun and I can feel my eyelids droop.
Quixote This one is pretty straight forward; I love this word because it is responsible for my best score ever in scrabble. It is a noun meaning a person who is “foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action” (according to Merriam-Webster).
I honestly can’t remember the score anymore, but I used all 7 letters, added to another word and hit the triple word score using the Q and the X. My husband, who can’t bear to play with me at the best of times because I LOVE big unusually spelled words that actually exist, couldn’t even be mad at me because he was so proud.
Karpouzi This is a twofer. First up – Don’t you just love saying this word?! I am saying it over and over right now like a crazy person. It means watermelon in Greek. I bet you are wondering how on earth I would come across this word. No? Too bad!
The second reason this is one of my favourite words is sentimental. 13 years ago (I cringe just saying that) I was an au pair in Camps Bay, to the most amazing 1 year old named Telamon. He was half German and half Greek and his favourite toy in all the world was a little plush watermelon that he called Karpouzi that slept with him every night and at every nap. I was with him for 6 years and I loved him almost as much as I love my own child. Saying that word will always bring back a rush of intense love for that not-so-little-anymore boy.
Normal I, like most people, never thought I would like this word or what it stood for. Normal is a bland word and it is best described by it’s synonyms – “usual, standard, typical, stock, common, ordinary, customary, conventional, habitual, accustomed, expected, wonted, everyday, regular, routine, day-to-day, daily, established, settled, set, fixed, traditional, quotidian, prevailing…” There are more, and even in that there is judgment; all the synonyms are more interesting than normal.
We are also taught from a very young age that being “normal” is as good as being a failure; at all things we need to be exceptional and unique, but not to go so far as to be abnormal.
There is one exception to this rule and that is when you are pregnant. Every doctor’s visit, every scan, every symptom; you barter with the universe and any God you believe in, for everything to be NORMAL. The word becomes a wish on your lips and manna from heaven when you hear someone say it. From my first rather terrifying visit to the doctor at just 5 weeks pregnant, when I thought I might have an ectopic pregnancy and he did the scan and pronounced it a normal pregnancy; the word gained the most incredible power over me. I wonder how we get from there to it being the worst possible thing to be?
Home This one is a keeper. The word itself is unexceptional, normal even (hahaha, I make myself laugh). Even the definition doesn’t generally inspire: “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” But the flood of emotions and images and sounds and smells and purely distilled memory it evokes is unparalleled.
It is quite a complex thing really. It can mean a dozen different places, with a dozen different people, but the feeling remains exactly the same. Home for me is split at the moment. For a big part of me, home will always be wherever my parents are. I never lived in the house they live in now and I have no attachment to it, but when I say I need to call home, I mean call that house where my parents are.
We moved a lot when I was growing up; from when I was born to the day I moved in with Brett at 25, my family lived in 9 different houses. Those houses all flash through my mind when I think home; I can mentally be completely in any one of them and feel SAFE. I guess that’s why I can call wherever my parents live home, because where we were was never important – I always knew I was loved and I was safe.
Mostly though now, when I say home, I mean the house I live in with Brett and Charlotte and Trigger and Gizmo. I know that I will be able to call anywhere we are together home; but for right now, it is this double-story townhouse in Kenilworth.
It is the first home I’ve lived in since I was 5 that was owned as opposed to rented; it is where Brett told me he loved me for the first time; it is where he proposed in the garden at midnight on New Year’s Eve 3 years ago; it is where we planned our wedding and our life-changing honeymoon; it is where I started my own business and it is where we lived when our daughter was born. It won’t be our last house; we are hoping the next one is our forever home; but it will always be one of the most special homes I have ever had.
And that is why home is one of my favourite words – in case you, like me, forgot what I was going on about – because it stirs up more emotion and meaning than any other word I know.
And there you have it. Rather more than you expected when you saw the title “My 5 favourite words”. You should know me better than that by now!