When I was little, I wanted badly to collect. Collect what, I knew not — it was mainly so that I’d have substance to support my relentlessly underwhelming show-and-tells. Still, I craved presentable proof of my passions, a trinket to match every anecdote.
I saw the piles of shiny purple and metallic gray stones at the nearby toy store and thought to myself, “Well, that. That’s what I want. But cooler.” If it could be acquired so freely and easily, it’d never pass. Plus, rocks were JV collecting at best. Too plain.
My piano teacher, Mrs. Ceretelli, whose basement reeked of mothballs and Loch Ness Monster existence theories, collected frogs of all inanimate sorts. But her trove and its surroundings didn’t offer goosebumps of the inspirational variety. Terrifying stuff, really. And the trophies accumulating on my dresser from numerous sporting bouts, well — to a competitive little kid, those came from work, not play.
Thus passed my childhood pangs for a collecting hobby. Simple, ephemeral, unfulfilled and having (thankfully) bypassed Beanie Baby mania.
It wasn’t until a recent Sunday evening, as I recapped a visit to an old friend — and a bunch of her new ones, who appeared a bit puzzled by me — that I realized I have evolved into a very belated accomplishment of this very temporary wish. To my proud fault, too, I think I’ve ended up more a Mrs. Ceretelli than any majestic projection of my second-grade daydreams.
See, in the years since I studied Greek and Latin derivatives for leisure, I have unintentionally fallen prey to the organic process which meaningful collection inspires. I am an accidental logophile, a happenstance collector of words, who lists etymonline.org among her favorite websites. And the ways I speak and write are my moment-to-moment “Antiques Roadshow” display — one of seemingly depreciating value — as result.
Lately, I’ve entered a transitional phase of young adulthood — out of college, out of work, into my parents’ home, away from friends, et cetera; I’m nearing eccentric recluse level and taking my verbosity down with me. I’m at a place I recently described (to myself, in my head, naturally) as “walking the thin line between ‘sexy enigma’ and ‘generally musky,'” and as such, my logophilic loggorhea increasingly resembles social faux pas.
Yet, as I succumb to my state, I’m ever faster to defend it. As I’m told, “You talk weird” more and more frequently, I relay a shockingly anomalous, sparsely worded “Sorry I’m not” shrug as my insides cringe at the poor grammar of it all.
That’s not because I own my airs with arrogance, either. What happens when I open my mouth (or take my fingers to my keys) is not something machinated with pretentious intentions. It is the result of a fervent affection for words — a belief, above most beliefs, that no thing, tangible or intangible, evades description. To embrace this philosophy is an empowering sensation that can ignite a commitment to expressive precision. It does for me, at least.
So, to my confounded new peers, I’ll retreat without regret into the warm circles of philatelists and antiques enthusiasts if I must. And I’ll dismount nobly from my high horse.
After all, my diction may lack the luster of those toy-store rocks — but I daresay it’s more vivacious.