I wrote this as an essay for school about my name. Disclaimer- Helen isn't my actual name
|My parents thought about my name a lot. I know this because they had to read the entire baby name book from front to back to find my name on the end of that very last page. Three little letters and an accent that has never made it onto any typed document, that’s my name. They say it sounded right, and when I was born that became what I was called. No matter how much my brother advocated for Pineneedle Cowgirl, my name became the three letters it is today. Three letters and an accent that makes it unspellable.
In greek, my name means Life. Not life as in alive, Life with a capital L. At least that’s how I’ve always thought of it. Having a name meaning Life with a capital L is a big burden to put on such a small person, but I have strong shoulders. I have to for them to carry the weight of my name.
When I was little, I was unique. Utterly. I was set apart from my peers by being last. Teachers would call out role and when they got to me they would give me a smile as their mouths sounded out those three letters and the accent that never made it onto their role sheet. Last but certainly not least, they would say. And I would smile for my differences, which I wore as a badge of honor.
I was different for many other ways, but I was set apart by my name. I was different because I didn’t know how to be young, I didn’t for years, until I was too old to make up the lost years. But they didn’t know that, and I didn’t know that. They just knew the girl with the name at the end of the alphabet. And when they would write out my name on my desk I would glare at the name that wasn’t mine and I would take a marker and even though they told us not to touch the name tags I would put those two dots over the last letter. And I would sit back and I would smile because finally. That was my name.
I used to hate that accent. Those umlauts. Because it meant my name was spelled wrong every time it was written. It wasn’t my name without those umlauts, but I wanted it to be. It would be simpler.
But as I got older, my uniqueness in my name dissolved. I met more of me, and then more. Until there was a virtual army of mes swarming around the school. The difference that I mistook for something special was gone. I was one of many now. Except with each me I met, I met a new spelling. Every spelling you could think of, and countless more that you never would. A Y or an extra O or an I or even an H crammed into the name like a puzzle piece you jam into a spot you know it won’t fit in. My name is like one of those words in a foreign language that sound the same. Maybe even mean about the same thing. But there is a difference, a difference that all of us know.
Suddenly the only thing unique about my name was the accent that I had spent my life wishing I didn’t have to have.
The worst thing was that all of the army of me were like badly made clones. Or maybe like twins; the fraternal kind. We were different people. We really were, but in the end we were all more similar than we wanted to admit. It was as if the name forged us, the weight of having such a heavy name forced us to adapt. But we all did it in the same way.
I made friends with the other mes. Because I had to. We were too similar to ignore each other. But being friends meant both of us turning when our shared name was said. It meant confusion. It meant chaos for our friends who would sometimes result to calling us by our last names in a desperate attempt to differentiate us.
But ours is a snowflake of a name. It will look the same, it will seem the same.
But it isn’t the same.
Ours is a name that can be garbled easily. I know that better than anybody. I’m envious of how they say my name. When I try, the beginning is too long, the end too hard, but when they say it it is music.
Mine is an unspellable name. The others don’t have this problem, this part is all me. My destiny is having a name that isn’t mine on name tags and rosters and yearbooks. You can’t tell the difference, but I can. I do.
Mine is a strange name. And I may share it with an army, but it is still all mine.