Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's The Word? - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 33

"Giulio said, 'Maybe you and Rome just have different words.'
'What do you mean?'
He said, 'Don't you know that the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn - what is the word of the street?'
Then he went on to explain, in a mixture of English, Italian and hand gestures, that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there.  If you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought.  Whatever that majority might be - that is the word of the city.  And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there.
'What's Rome's word?' I asked.
'SEX,' he announced....'Even over at the Vatican?'
'That's different.  The Vatican isn't part of Rome.  They have a a different word over there.  Their word is POWER.'
Giulio asked, 'What's the word in New York City?'
I thought about this for a moment, then decided.  'It's a verb, of course, I think it's ACHIEVE.'
(Which is subtly but significantly different from the word in Los Angeles, I believe, which is also a verb: SUCCEED.  Later, I will share this whole theory with my Swedish friend Sofie, and she will offer her opinion that the word on the streets of Stockholme is CONFORM, which depresses both of us.)
I asked Giulio, 'What's the word in Naples?' He knows the south of Italy well.
'FIGHT,' he decides. 'What was the word in your family when you were growing up?'
That one was difficult.  I was trying to think of a single word that somehow combines both FRUGAL and IRREVERENT.  But Guilio was already on to the next most obvious question: 'What's your word?'
Now that, I definitely could not answer." - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 33 pg. 103-104

Whoa. This is a heavy one, eh? This will be a short entry because I'm simply going to attempt to figure out the words for my city, my family growing up and myself.  Short, but certainly not simple.  Will probably take me longer to finish this than it would to write a whole book.

Bloomington's word?  Maybe...FREE-THINKING. Or SELF-EXPRESSION
My family growing up? BROKEN
Me? Well, if I knew that, I wouldn't have started this blog. But let's take a stab...SURVIVOR. I don't know. Maybe...COMFORT.  I'll have to think about this more.

What about you?  Do you have differing ideas for what Bloomington's word would be?  What about your family growing up or yourself? Or me? (For goodness sake, help me with this!)  Share in the Comments section, if you like!

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