I love dictionaries. I especially love the Oxford English Dictionary. There are eleven definitions for “change” as a noun and eight for “change” as a verb. Some of the more interesting ones include verb 7.d: “Of the moon: (a) To pass through her various phases. (b) To pass from one monthly revolution to another, pass through the phase of ‘new moon’; sometimes extended to ‘full moon’, and intermediate phases.” ; noun 8.b: “Bell-ringing. The different orders in which a peal of bells may be rung” and 11: “Sc. An ale-house.” Sc. stands for Scottish, by the by. Change is a word that, itself, is ever-changing. In 1611, again according to the OED, change was used to mean death. In 1828, it is cited also as a cricket term meaning: “The substitution of one bowler or type of bowling for another in the course of a match; also, a change-bowler.” According to a Google search, change is as simple as to “make or become different,” “to take or use another instead of,” “the act or instance of making or becoming different,” and “coins as opposed to paper currency.”
.With such widely disparate definitions, how can anyone understand what change actually is? Change is something that can be conscious or unconscious, something visible or invisible, a difference or a few coins. As for me, my understanding of change, what it means, and how it has affected me is visible right here, in this writing. From my first person voice, I turned to my academic love of words, then to a philosophical and abstract question and musing, and now I return to the personal. To what change means to me.
Change to me is the death of my paternal grandfather, who taught me how to draw a pearl necklace, when I was four. It is the death of my maternal grandparents, a few years apart, who opened their home to my brother and me. It is the selling of that home and the loss of a childhood sanctuary. It is the loss of my dream of being an actor and the death of my father and the slowly burning knowledge that the only way to feel is to write. It is the death of my paternal grandmother who asked us every time we saw her how her only son had died. It is my changing from a single, full-bodied teenager with a guitar-playing dick boyfriend to a woman pursued by the first love of her life. It is the change in my body when it decided to spring an eating disorder on me. It is the recovery of my body, the discovery of depression, and the return to college. It is the love affairs that followed my first love, and their transient, ever-changing nature. It is my dedication to writing and the development from saying “I want to be a writer” to admitting that “I am a writer.” It is moving into one apartment after the other, losing my home base in Israel where I grew up, and watching my aunts get married. It is life.
Ilana Masad is an Israeli-American writer living in New York. She is the founder of TheOtherStories.org, a podcast that showcases fiction writers’ stories and struggles. Her work has appeared in The New York, Tin House, The Toast, The Rumpus, Hypertext Magazine, Printer’s Row and more. She can be found @ilanaslightly.