They are a gateway, a long and twisty path to Oz, where we might find exactly what we're looking for.

It is a fleeting luxury that must never be taken too lightly, or too seriously. Where it is impossibly lost, we mustn't fret. And where it is utterly required, we must acquiesce to nothing short. Discernment and Caution will serve us well. Or they will kill us while we sleep.

The very vessels we ride on to get to Oz seem to think they know more than we do. They take charge and begin making up road signs that don't even exist in our route. "Exit right at 14A, Passive-Aggressive Avenue!" "Make a U-turn at Boulevard of Misunderstanding!" We waste so much time.

* * *

I have learned, sluggishly (and have still not fully grasped, might I say), that I cannot do with words what my hands, shoulders, feet and heart were singularly built to do. Words are decor. They are scenery. They set the mood like a gingham tablecloth or the sad grey hue on the wall. They are the rooms we live in, they are where we sleep at night. They are the pots and pans, the bread, the candles, the bathtub, the wooden slats in the floor, the broken teacup. They are meaningless unless either trust or confirming action accompany. It is what remains when the words are gone that truly shows a relationship in peace, or at war.

My words have become sparser over time. My sentences are shorter, yet each one a plumper raindrop than the one before it. When I don't answer letters or calls right away, you can rest assured that I believe either:

a) an answer requires additional time of reflection (delicate things, friends and family are), or
b) our friendship would be harmed or in some way affected in a negative fashion by a reply from me, and your words are best left as the last for the time being, or
c) I have simply not arrived at the knowledge of how I even feel about the matter at hand

At any rate, no words I can conjure ever seem to convey exactly what I mean, and it is a terrible fright to say something and then have to "take it back". Memories cannot be taken back, and I would rather not toy with someone's memories in so flippant and careless a way as I have been injured by, with words thrown about, slashing and bruising, leaving me concussed and low on blood. Instead I leave the exactness up to time and count my words out like pearls, precious few. You can have as many as you like, but each one deserves an equal amount of attention and care as another, so take care yourself to ask for only as many as you can handle at a time. There is always time to take time to love a person, as these things go. The price for hurried words is a burden I cannot afford to bear.

And perhaps I bask in the drama of a cleverly-crafted understatement. What a thrill to speak in a small way and watch knowingly the listener's eyes for silent acknowledgement of the monumental statement that's just been made. The wolf in sheep's clothing, or perhaps it's more like a dog whose bark is nothing compared to his bite. "Just the tip of the iceberg!", as they say! Maybe he'll catch the drift; maybe she will ask for further clarification. Maybe no one understands, but if I can't think up a way to explain it, mediator/interpreter that I am, then by-golly it had better be left right where it is until some old soul comes and gives me a wink. That's how you know. The old movies are positively saturated with nods and glances and raisings-of-eyebrows that just mean the world in a moment. This probably belies my old-fashioned way of looking at the Art of Communique. It used to be an art.

They are a tool, and a tragically beautiful one we cannot bear to go without; nay, we must not dream of discarding this pearl of greatest price. But you must build something. Choose your materials with care. With each brick you lay, each nail you drive, each rough edge you sand smooth, Oz is built. And you're going to get there, that much is certain.


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