Writing short stories as a kid (yes, I was writing even when I was a little kid), I vaguely remember the he-said-she-said dilemma of moving dialogue along in the context of a plot. I’m sure in that way-back-when scenario, I had difficulty coming up with a word to replace the ever-present “said” as character spoke to character.
While it may sound a simple and easily removed roadblock to writing, the how-to-say-said conundrum is something with which amateur writers truly struggle. Not because there is no better way to say said; rather because there are literally hundreds of replacement words.
He shouted, stammered, screamed. She blurted, breathed, bellowed.
Once upon a time, I likely threw in that tiny little word at the close of a sentence with nary a thought.
When I still had no concept of the word, or the potential of its weight.
Driving in the car the other day, I sighed.
I hadn’t realized that I had. Not exactly sure what had triggered it.
But my daughter did not like it. Not one bit.
“Don’t go doing that with me,” she said.
Apparently, I do this sighing thing from time-to-time. It doesn’t really bother Alex much. That is, as long as there’s no chance that the sigh of the moment could in any way be connected to her. As long as her brother remains its reliable source, she remains pretty unfazed.
Unfortunately, it was only she and I in the car that day. She came to her own conclusions.
But when did I start to sigh??
I don’t remember my mother sighing.
Then, there’s little chance that Helen would a) take the time to breathe in and out and b) keep anything sigh-provoking to herself.
I should have learned more from mom.
Because there’s nothing particularly satisfying about sighing. It doesn’t compare to the let-out after a lung full capture of fresh air. It is far removed from the breath expelled in the wake of a satisfying cardio workout.
It’s breathing, but barely.
And in my case at least, it is heavily connected to kids.
Who knew that the breathing exercises which served so little function through the horrible childbirth experience with my first baby would be of much more use so long after delivery? Who knew I’d actually need a reminder to breathe, just breathe?
But I do remember, and sometimes audibly so.
What I need also to remember though, as my brain rumbles with its locomotive static of the sigh-inducing detritus of life, is the mantra that everyone with teenagers keeps offering me: this-too-shall-pass, this-too-shall-pass.