– from "My Name" by Sandra Cisneros
A slice I read last week got me thinking about names. My mother’s side of the family was not very creative with names. My grandparents were Margaret and Michael. They had three children – Rose, Mary, and Edward. Margaret’s grandchildren were named Margaret Mary, Rosemary (my cousin and I both received that name), Edward, and James (named for his father). Irish influence to be sure. There were lots of “names we were called” by the adults and nicknames we called each other in order to distinguish those with the same name. At various stages there was Maggie, Margy, Little Rose, Rosie, Rosemary, RoseMARY (emphasis on the Mary), Eddie Peter, and Ed. When I was in college my first roommate wanted to call me Ro. I didn’t think I was a Ro, so thankfully that didn’t stick.
My father’s side of the family was quite different. With Polish-Russian roots, his parents were Emilia and Karl. They had Emil, Florence, and Ludwig (my father). Florence’s children were Lorraine, Evelynne, and Karl. She wanted the girls to have eight letters in their name as she did.
When my children were born we went through the process most parents go through of picking a name. I wanted to be sure my children had middle names since I never had one and most of my friends did, so we had Brian Allan and Ann Elizabeth. Probably not very creative either. Now, there are more modern names like Madison, Ethan, and Jackson, although we probably would still have Brian and Ann. Those names fit.
As I write this I am reminded of “My Name” from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The way she describes her name in the beginning is like poetry and reminds her of her roots. I think it is important to be comfortable in your name. It may become how you think about yourself.
I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do. - from "My Name" by Sandra Cisneros