To celebrate my love for words, I have decided to begin a new series here on Twice Sold Tales. This should come as no surprise, but I’ll say it anyway: I love words. I love the infinite combinations of ways words can be used, understood, misinterpreted, and cherished. Margaret Atwood once said, “A word after a word after a word is power.” And I agree. Humans are the only beings capable of communicating thought, emotion, and experience through language – and that’s a beautiful thing. With just a few words, we can express joy, love, grief, hatred, fear, hope, pain, and humor. We depend on language to share our unique experiences with the world. Each word we use is a reflection of our various cultures and socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, and each word we speak and write reflects who we are as individuals.
Given my background and the things that make up who I am – a passion for books, writing, and reading – it only makes sense that I would be a word worshiper. Hence the idea behind this new series I’ve thought up for you. Once or twice a week, I will share with you a unique word. I will include the standard definition of that word, along with any relative cultural or etymological origins, and then I will define what that word means to me. Or to you. Or to all of us. Let’s keep it simple and call it my Word of the Day Series.
And let’s begin now, because there’s no better time than the present.
Today’s word: Kaffeeklatsch – German, noun: an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation.
I have always been a bit of a loner, generally preferring to keep my company with books or with family. That being said, I have always kept a small, loyal group of friends, most of whom I’ve known since kindergarten. And three girls I met in college. We lived together for only one year, and yet we still call ourselves “The Girls of 413,” referring to the number of the humble abode in which we resided. As is so often the case, in the years since we left the University of Maine, we have each gone our separate ways – Old Town, Brunswick, Portland. For the most part, we make do with chats online, texts, and holiday cards. But that’s never enough for the friends you love, and sometimes you just have to find a way to be together in person.
Recently, three of the four of us were able to meet here in Brunswick for a few hours of laughter, gossip, and Irish coffees. The plan came together beautifully, spontaneously – one of those “we-simply-cannot-wait-any-longer-I’ll-hop-the-next train-I’ll-jump-in-the-car-and-be-there-in-a-couple-hours” occasions.
Anyone lucky enough to have cherished friends like this will understand the beautiful ease into which you fall as soon as you are with them again. No matter how long it’s been, a good friend is still there, many years’ changed, perhaps, but still the same to you. You share the same old jokes about the years spent in English classes with Hawaiian Shirt Kid, the questionable choices in boyfriends, and the birthday parties where the cops showed up (don’t worry, Mom, that was a long time ago). There is a familiarity between old friends, shared experiences and memories that have gone into shaping who you have become as a person.
As we sat sipping our Irish coffees at Joshua’s Tavern, I watched the rain pouring down outside and listened to the music of my friends’ conversation and laughter wash over me. I hadn’t realized until that very moment just how much I had missed them. We get so wrapped up in the progression and distractions of our own lives that we can forget how essential it is to take an afternoon to do just this: sit, enjoy an adult beverage, and feel the warmth of friendship. (Or maybe it’s the warmth of whiskey… or maybe that’s the same thing.) A few hours together was all it took to remind me of our glory days and to instill in me, once again, the gratitude that comes along with good, lasting friendships. And it reminded me of something else: how invincible I always felt with them, how young and magical and brilliant. And we could all do well to feel those things about ourselves, don’t you think?
Until next time, ladies. And next time, there better be some more Irish coffees.
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And, for a sample of my fiction writing, follow the link to read my original short story, “Lost and Found,” recently published by the Hawaii Pacific Review: https://hawaiipacificreview.org/2015/12/10/lost-and-found/