Few things stump me faster than asking me to name something.
Not just recall something’s name, but to actively name it, to bestow upon that thing a word-sound that will represent it forever.
Perhaps it was an early exposure to Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy and Ged’s constant battle to name his nemesis. Maybe it is simply the fact that I don’t have a real name. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but look at it this way: the only name I’ve ever been called by my parents (and subsequently by most people) is not my legal name; it’s a nickname (and one for which I’ve never been particularly fond at that). In fact, when my given name is used, it feels as though I’ve just slipped on an old hand-me-down wool jacket – heavy, scratchy, dated, and fitted to someone else entirely.
Or it could be that names are fluid and change over time as people enter into different stages of their lives and associate with different people. Perhaps that explains some of the appeal for me of fantasy authors whose characters assume different names throughout their lives, either by choice or circumstance. Whatever the reason, the act of naming for me is difficult.
So, suffice it to say that when the very first question WordPress posed was what I wanted to name this blog, I picked something out of thin air and half-remembered phrases, just trying to get something on the first try that wasn’t already taken. It worked.
The best I can explain my choice is that I seem to recall my father, in one of his storytelling modes years ago using the word Zanzibar.
The day after I used it (and yes, this shows exactly how forward-thinking I am in my approach to most things), I looked it up.
Turns out it was a fairly inspired conjuction of reality and whatever plane of existence my brain inhabits, for Zanzibar is part of the Spice Islands, exporting cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, spices which infuse the everyday with a hint of sweetness and extra flavor. That – that to me is the essence of life.