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Memoir This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I remember the first time I fell in love with language. I was four, maybe five, and I was sitting on the floor listening to my dad coach my brother, Matt, through his spelling list. As many times as Dad would drill him, there was one word in particular that wouldn’t stick, so Matt was left to practice, eyes closed in concentration, whispering the letters to himself over and over, “O-C-E-A-N, O-C-E-A-N…” It was then, on the kitchen floor, eyes shut tight listening to the rhythm and the pattern of the letters, that it happened. I was struck, viscerally and violently, by the perfect resonance of the world. It made complete sense that ‘ocean’ was not spelled with a clumsy ‘-tion’ or a tactless ‘-shun.’ ‘Ocean’ was purposeful, graceful; the curl of its subtlety gave it strength and profundity. Though the reasoning was hard to grasp for a four-year-old child and admittedly still is, the word made eddies in my mind that have left me wholly and indelibly changed.
Yes, words and I are a love affair. I’ve crawled to my roof on summer nights to read Frost and Whitman to myself in a whisper. I’ve secretly savored Shakespeare, hidden in plain sight amongst my groaning peers. I’ve scoured weighty anthologies to pen phrases on my palms and relish the prospect of old books from yard sales, rich with must and poetry. Language is a primal need; my heartbeat, driven by stress and syllable assures me of that. I’ve found that no truth is truer than that which is penned, and for that reason, I write to know myself. I write to see my world with eloquence and grace, be my words curled up in the margins or standing immaculate— bold and proud. I write to force myself to experience, rather than merely exist.




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