it’s probably the water at my new apartment

My emotions have been intense lately.  I wouldn’t describe what I’m going through as depression, and it hasn’t come with a lot of drama or yelling* or anger or anything.  No, I guess I’d describe my feelings as emboldened, and starting with capital letters.  I don’t just feel happy, I feel Happy!  When I’m nervous, I’m Nervous!  I’m not lonely, I’m Lonely.  When I’m bored, I’ve Never Been So Bored In My Life, Goddammit!

With the feelings that are less easily defined, I really wish I had some of those fancy German compound words** to describe them.  Why is there no English word for “Currently lonely, but happy to have social engagements planned for the near future”?  What’s the word for “Bored, but with the knowledge that there are any number of interesting things that could be done”?  What word can be used to describe an emotional bigness, the feeling that your heart might explode out of your chest, but you have no idea why?

Last week my friend Billy took me on an evening flight in a tiny, tiny airplane.  Everything’s more intense in a tiny airplane; you can hear all the noises, you can see everything around you, and when you land you can watch it all happen through the front windshield.

We took off from Austin at sunset, flew to Llano, and then flew back to Austin as the full moon was rising.  As we went over Lake Buchanan, Billy turned the radio down and we sat in silence, listening to the hum of the engine through our headphones as the moon reflected off the water.

What, then, is the word for the feeling that “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, except that can’t be right because I’ve seen lots of other beautiful things, and anyway, everything’s more intense in a tiny airplane”?

Why do I need words to describe everything?  And whence all the Feelings lately?  Given the choice, I suppose I wouldn’t trade them, as they make my life feel epic in a way that it really isn’t.  But I do still wonder where they’re coming from.

*Who would I yell at?  Everyone’s great!
**c.f. Schadenfreude, except I haven’t felt that one these days.

8 thoughts on “it’s probably the water at my new apartment

  1. This is probably kind of weird to say, but I’m jealous of your ability to feel things deeply. I’ve been through an insane number of life changes this year, mainly negative although a couple of positive ones, and my coping mechanism for getting through it seems to be that I’ve built a wall up around my heart so that I don’t feel things properly anymore. Instead of my feelings feeling emboldened like yours, they’re more like a whispered, diluted version of what what feeling should feel like. I miss feeling things fully :(

  2. Well this doesn’t help or anything, but I just wanted to say that I really think I understand what you mean. Especially with describing those incredibly complex feelings with lots of conjunctions and stuff. (Even more confusing when there are two Emotional Bigness/Heart Explosion feelings – one for incredibly happy and the other for incredibly… something else.) Anyway, thanks for posting this.

  3. Laura: depth of feeling comes and goes for me. Sometimes I spend months and months feeling sort of “meh” about everything; other times things are Absolutely Huge. Depth of feeling, and lack thereof, might be the brain’s way of protecting us. “Feel this! Don’t feel that!” it says. Maybe your situation isn’t that you don’t feel things ANYMORE, it’s that you don’t feel them RIGHT NOW.

    Kate: I’m glad you know what I mean. Sometimes that’s what the internet is for: casting a wide digital am-I-crazy-is-this-just-me net. Thanks!

  4. All psychology, especially auto-psychology (Selbstpsychologie*), is better with German
    * “Currently lonely…”: Zwischeneinsamkeit, the temporary loneliness between social times.
    * “Bored, but…”: Absichtlangweil would be willful boredom; there’s Weltschmerz**, but that’s longer-duration. Customers who bought this word also bought: ennui; listlessness; dysphoria.
    3) exploding heart: Überfüllteherzgefühl, over-full heart feeling. Really, this is not what German is for. I believe Kim Deal called it “Paul”. You may also be interested in: Takotsubo cardiomyopathy; Stendhal syndrome
    4) Zurzeiteinzigeschöne, at the moment, the most beautiful thing — would work generally; specifically, you want Kleinflugzeugerhabeneneffekt – the sublimifying effect of small planes.

    * I made up all these words
    ** Except this one of course

  5. Shaun. I knew I’d find you here.

    Flug! That’s airplane or something! I know that because I flew out of Flughafen Tegel once. True story.

    3) I do not have a disease.

    All the rest of it: you know too many things.

    P.S. I love “Gigantic.”

  6. You may not have it now, but you could be at risk! I caught a terrible case of the Stendhals when I went to the Cleveland Zoo a couple months ago. You have to be careful. Goddamn lemurs, you know?

  7. What word can be used to describe an emotional bigness, the feeling that your heart might explode out of your chest, but you have no idea why?

    “Embiggened” is a perfectly cromulent word.

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