Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Word Up Wednesday: Vivacious

When I was ten years old, my mam and I were living in Santorini, Greece, we knew a young Greek woman named Alexandra. Alexandra was beautiful and funny and full of life. Her English was extremely good, good enough to hang around with the ex-pats, but every now and then she would slip an odd word into conversation. One of my favorites was "cooks" for "cookies." I remember when she said cooks, I said "What is that?" and she said, "It's a quicker way to say cookies." Obviously!

One time my mother was sweeping the cement floor of our villa and I really wanted to do it, for some odd reason that would certainly not be replicated today, and I think I was being kind of obnoxious about wanting to do it (I know that may come as a shock to many of you). Alexandra was there and she said, "Oh Sierra. You are so vivacious."

My mother said, "I don't think you mean that word. I think you mean, obnoxious, insistent, perhaps even vociferous."

"No, I am sure she is vivacious," Alexandra said.

"But vivacious means lively and high-spirited, and while Sierra is those things, I think what you mean right now is naughty," my mother said. I did not appreciate her correction of Alexandra's beautiful word.

"I am sure she is vivacious," Alexandra insisted. I think we were surprised she knew the word, because the context was off. But in Greece, I ran around like a little sprite and was terribly independent. And if truth be told, twenty years later, vivacious sounds like a pretty good thing to be called. I think I was vivacious back then, and I like to think I am somewhat now, too. Vivacious, based on the Latin viva for life, means sounds energetic and active.

And as a somewhat sedentary beast these days, I can tell you I have a whole new appreciation for those vivacious days in Greece.

At right is Alexandra. I am posting her picture with great hesitation since this is a public forum and I don't have her permission, but we neither remember her last name, nor she ours, and we haven't seen or spoken to her in over twenty years. This photo was taken probably in 1983 or so.


Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I want to eat some cooks for breakfast. Is that bad?!

You, my dear Sierra, REEK of vivaciousness. Alexandra was spot on.

I do not feel vivacious this morning. Nope. I feel fatigued, maybe even lethargic. (I blame this on < 6.5 hours of sleep.)

Anonymous said...

I think you still qualify as vivacious, Sierra. Just because you may not be as energetic, doesn't mean you can't be full of life.

DL Hammons said...

I'm still getting to know you, but I can see vivacious there. You might can supress it with a change in lifestyle, but it never really goes away. :)

Jm Diaz said...

A most beautiful word indeed ma'am. Good call. How long did you live in Grecia (the land of freedom or death)?
And yes, vivacious sill applies to you.

KLM said...

I would be honored to no end to have someone post something like this about me twenty years after the fact! What a great story. And I may from now on refer to my own daughters as vivacious whenever I mean naughty. Who knows, maybe this could become one of those kinds of misuses of an word that then becomes the new meaning?

Travener said...

"Supple, vivacious Sierra Godfrey came from the stairwell bearing a bowl of cherries..." (OK, I plagiarized, in the event anyone notices.)

Yvonne Osborne said...

I love the word "vivacious." What a wonderfully rich background you have.
You are definitely vivacious and I like to think of myself as the same. If it is based on the Latin viva for life, energetic and active, most writers are vivacious!

Jason Roberts said...

I've always thought of you as quite vivacious, Sierra. I'd also like to point out that Alexandra--by defining your desire to sweep as perhaps vexing, but still a positive thing--was herself being vivacious when she used the word "vivacious" in that particular context.

Cynthia Reese said...

Oh, to be vivacious! What a wonderful compliment, and I'm sure she is right!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Well, you guys are all super nice. Jason is right in that Alexandra was vivacious. It was funny that she applied the word to me since I always remember her as being the embodiment of the word.

I have to say, I wouldn't want to be anything other than vivacious! Seems the only way to live, to me.

Meika said...

Great compliment! And I am soooo envious that you lived in Santorini. So jealous!

Meghan Ward said...

Yes! Vivacious is a huge compliment!

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