It was the early 60’s (as in 1960’s) and my formative years had begun their countdown. Looking back, it was my personal Leave it to Beaver-land, a classic TV existence, with mundane, middle class mores, and whitewashed awareness of my burgeoning world. Not due so much from sheltering, but the times. It was a sort of wonderful time in the land, as new news barely broke daily, unlike today’s breaking news-by-the-minute.
And, back in the day, social media-less newscasts even had time for an uplifting story at the end of each broadcast. Uplifting … the same way our template, but classic TV episodes all ended.
In that time, for me, everyday familiar words were, well, familiar, tried and true, and easily understood. To name a few, words such as school, St. Edmond’s school, nuns, mom, dad, sister, homework, running, playing, television shows, baseball, fighting, snow day, love, protection, pet, row home, grocery store errand, living room, dinner, friends, make believe, teacher, after school clothes, Kennedy, cousins, and sofa were in the normal vocabulary rotation. Comfortable, familiar, every day words thought or said … and what other words did I need?
An answer came suddenly, one day early into the formative process, when that steady, whitewashed awareness was altered. A visiting, long-distance relative said they were going to sit and relax on our davenport. Our davenport! They were sitting on the sofa, so why did they call it a davenport? What is a davenport? It was a shock that there were words out there I didn’t know. Not words like acoustics, gastroenterology, conveyance, apogee, exponential, quintessential or differential, but DAVENPORT! It was a word in lieu of a different, comfortable word I used every day. A different word for the same piece of furniture I called something else.
Normalcy was shattered, but awareness just beginning.
Thus, that out-of-nowhere hijacking of my familiar vocabulary began my introduction to life and words beyond my own. It gave a new awareness or cognizance of a world different than mine. My mind staggered, filled with words.
Where to begin.