Below are five words that are tied to emotions everyone feels but can’t explain. For each one, I’ve written short stories to give you an idea what each emotion may feel like and to share in a fun experience.
I am strolling through the bustling farmer’s market. The mid-summer heat pierces the crown of my head and creates a cloud of stagnant heat within the crowd. My friends pull me towards a juice stand with free samples. We wait in line and point out the different flavors. A woman with a stroller comes up behind us and asks her little one which juice she wants. A sweet face peaks out of the stroller and smiles at the vibrantly-colored juices. There’s a couple in front of us throwing out their little paper cups. One throws his head back and laughs at his partner’s face after she had tasted an especially sour juice. I smile as I distinguish each person from the faceless crowd and see a bit of their stories unravel.
Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
The boss calls you into her office and asks how your new assignment is coming along. She focuses her eyes on you as you sit down on the opposite side of her desk. Intimidated, you meet her eyes and quickly, glance to the floor to gather your thoughts. ~ You and your partner are having a late-night conversation. The rest of the world is sleeping and you are confessing your deepest hopes and fears. The things you’ve never spoke aloud. Reaching out to close his hand in yours, you hold his gaze and smile in trust and relief. ~ Running late and already spilt coffee on your brand-new shirt; not a great start to the morning. You hurry out of your car and half-jog to the door of your building. Someone sees you rushing and holds the door open for you. You quickly snap your head up from the ground and glimpse at the person’s kind, brown eyes. As you rush through the door, you mutter a thank you and return your thoughts to the day ahead.
Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
The rain is making tunes of the roof and windows, heavily thumping and tapping away with no end in sight. Out of the corner of her eye, the little girl spots lightning amidst gray clouds. Knowing thunder is soon to follow, she waits patiently for the all-too-familiar sound. But when the thunder hits, she’s still startled into a slight twitch of her shoulders. Her mom walks up behind and hands her hot chocolate in her favorite holiday mug. Finding peace in the storm, the mother and daughter gaze out at the pouring rain. They sit together by the window and make constellations in their minds of the rain drops along the glass.
Chrysalism: The tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.
I took an Uber home from the airport – one last feeling of unfamiliarity in a familiar place. The apartment seems smaller somehow, the lighting dimmer. But there’s comfort here, knowing how it all works and that it’s a place I decided to call home at one point. I see all of my luxuries and things I’d always taken for granted. Relieved to have it all and yet, stuck with a sense of longing. I settle in. Unpack. Turn on the TV. In a couple days, it’s like I had never left at all.
Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
Reaching for the diploma. Holding your baby in your arms for the first time. Embracing in a tight hug filled with happiness and belonging. Watching a sunset over a turquoise ocean. Booking the plane ticket and setting off for adventure. Saying “I do.” All the moments, where everything is okay and you’ve made it. Where you’ve always hoped you would end up. The place where you can’t imagine anything else that matters but the here and now. A thousand memories flash before your eyes in this moment and you see all of your past selves. The tears, the stress, the heaviness of the heart. The deep, deep fear of not knowing if you’d make it here. And then, a sigh of relief. Easing into your new life and knowing you will come back to this place again.
Énouement: The bittersweet feeling of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.