In our house we are thisclose to being done with the college application process. Harrison has taken all the standardized tests, written all of his essays (of which there were many), submitted a portion of his applications and is days (hours?) away from hitting the send button on the rest. We have had remarkably few quarrels and I have only uttered, “I’ve already done my college applications!” once. Okay, maybe more than once. Regardless, all that remains to be done is the entry of my credit card and a strike to the “submit” button. The heavy thinking is over (for now, for him) and the waiting game begins.
Many of the essay questions were as you would imagine: “What makes you a unique candidate”, “Explain any grade below a B”, “Why do you want to go to (fill in school name here)?” Most did not trip him up (he is my son, after all, and, thankfully, doesn’t equate essay writing with torture) but one in particular did take him some time to come up with an answer that did not sound trite, canned or unoriginal. That question was, “Pick one word to describe you” (oh, and write 250 words about why).
Together we batted around several words which you might expect: resilient, resourceful, compassionate, clever, awesome (that was one of my suggestions), but none of them seemed quite right. We finally came up with a fantastic, simple, multidimensional word which we all decided was brilliant. (I am not going to say what the word is because it is so unique and unexpected that we are sure that it will catch the eye of the admissions folks charged with plowing through all of the applications and would hate for anyone to sneak in and lift it…inadvertently, of course.)
You are probably wondering why, if I am not going to share, would I even bring it up. Fair question. Well, all that thinking about words got me thinking about words and how multidimensional even the seemingly banal of them can be. And then I started trying to put myself in Harrison’s shoes and consider what word I would choose if charged with finding one that described me. I considered many: tired, honest, tolerant, funny, compassionate, really tired (oh, that is two words)…but somehow landed on onion. Yes, onion.
Let me explain. An onion is pretty straightforward…but is it really? Methinks not. Onions can be rounded or long and thin. They can be mild, sweet, or pungent. Some people are unaffected while in their company while others can be reduced to tears. They can be presented in cooked, raw, sliced, diced or reduced forms. And many have lots (and lots and lots) of layers. Is it just me or do you see the similarities here? Assuming you do not, let me explain:
- There have been times in my life that I have been more round than I would like. Of course during pregnancy, but my youngest is nearly eleven and the “blaming it on baby weight” ship might have sailed. Other times, I am long (enough) and thin (enough).
- I can be mild-mannered and easy-going. (Shut up, I can!), I like to think I have a sweet side, too. And, yes, I can be a bit intense (which is, in my mind, a better word than pungent).
- There are times I can slice an onion (or deal with a complicated child, let’s say) without issue, while other times, that same act leaves me with streaks (of my beloved) mascara running down my cheeks.
- You may find me in any state: cooked (done!), raw (an open wound), sliced (in control, but falling piece by piece), diced (chopped up to within an inch of my life) and reduced (in a puddle on the floor, sucking my thumb and rocking).
- And those (friggin’) layers. You keep on pulling them back thinking that you have reached the end, or found the sweet spot, or are done with the process, yet somehow you never are.
Get it now? Yep, it is pretty clear to me that I am, in actuality, an onion; the good, the bad and the ugly of an onion, but still an onion.
Got you thinking, have I? What one word would you use to describe yourself? Hmmmm.
Note: for what it is worth…I don’t happen to be an especially big fan of onions. Go figure.