The Word

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love. I liked it, and recommend it. Following a messy divorce and a difficult love affair, Gilbert, a writer, decided get out of town (NYC) and do what she likes best: travel. She spent several months in Italy, followed by several months at an ashram in India, and the last few months of her trip in Bali. It wasn't until I'd finished the book and was Googling her to see if I could learn what she's been doing since she wrote the book that I realized I'd read her (prize-winning) novel -- Stern Men -- a few years ago when I was vacationing in Maine and wanted to read someting with "local color." I recommend that book too, but that's another story (literally).

Anyway, Gilbert makes tons of friends in Italy (making friends is one of her talents, the one I envy her most for; the other is her total lack of fear about heading anywhere in the world with no planning whatsoever), including one who recounts his theory that every city and every person has a Word. For example, he says, the Word for Rome is "sex." Gilbert doesn't know what her Word is then, although she figures it out by the end of the book. You can't read this without starting to wonder what your own Word is. I did, of course, but nothing came immediately to mind (you should know that I'm the type of person who would find it extremely difficult to commit to an answer even if I thought I knew what it was, because I might not have considered ALL the possibilities and, thus, chosen the wrong Word -- the horror!). So, so far, I was Wordless.

I told my husband the story, and without skipping a beat, he said "I bet I know what your Word is." "Okay," I said, "what is it?," not telling him that I had no clue. "Learn," he said. Not one to be floored, or to describe myself as being floored, I was nevertheless floored. He was right! That is my Word! Not only did it feel right, but not for a minute did I consider thinking about it further because of all the potential Words I was casting aside.

This is only the precursor to the original intent of this post, which is to say that I've been thinking about making an artist's book with that as a theme or subject -- not the specificity of my own Word, but the broader concept of there being such a thing as a Word. I don't know where it will go, but I'll be rolling it around in my mind to see where it takes me.

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