A Letter to the Letter 'H,' the Sound I Struggle to Say


Dear H,

As you know, I stutter, and you are one of the sounds I stutter on the most but one I always seem to need. What an ironic twist, right? You probably think it’s funny.  My last name is Hayden. One greets another person, either on the phone or face to face, with some version of “hello.” I went to college in the city of Hattiesburg. The main street in Hattiesburg is Hardy Street. During my final two years of college, I lived off campus in an apartment, and guess which letter the complex started with? You guessed it, “H” for Hillendale.

For years, I would go out of my way to avoid you. When someone asked for my name I would stutter for as long as it took to say “Hayden” because there was no way I could pretend I didn’t know my last name.  When someone would ask what apartment complex I lived in I would pretend I didn’t know the name of my complex. My generic response was, “It’s on Lincoln Road. It’s right next to Winn-Dixie and the Lincoln Road Liquor Store.” If that description didn’t work, I would spend the next few seconds, which seemed like hours, trying to get the name “Hillendale” out. When I would answer the phone I would respond with, “Yes,” not because it made sense, but it’s what I could say. When I saw someone I knew I would wait for them to acknowledge me because it was easier. If they didn’t acknowledge me first, I would ignore them so I wouldn’t have to deal with one of your visits. When someone asked me where Southern Miss was I would either pretend I didn’t know the name or I could stutter on “Hattiesburg” for as long as it took. I would be able to get away with not saying “Hardy Street” because I could simply point out where a place was by the surrounding buildings.

As I’ve gotten older, I no longer view you as something that is out to get me, but rather an ironic quirk about me. Do I appreciate the fact that you are one of the sounds I stutter on the most but are one of the sounds I use the most? Not really. However, do I hide from you by any means necessary? Hell no.

Sincerely,

James

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