25 June 2011

What's my name?

When I was born, my parents named me after a paternal great grandmother, Nancy Brown.  She was the mother of my paternal grandmother.  She was a tall woman.  She had a long face and loose lips when she spoke.  I found her mildly disturbing.  Her husband Frank, on the other hand, always reminded me of Peter Pan.  He never seemed to grow up and always, even when he was ancient, had a playful glint in his eye.  He was funny.  Nancy Brown was just crabby.

Nancy and Frank fought fiercely throughout their marriage.  They barked at one another instead of talking.  It was their way.  I won't pretend I knew her well.  I didn't.  I saw them at holidays and reunions.  But I can't understand, for the life of me, why my parents sought to honor this woman by naming their child after her.  She was loud, opinionated, and boorish.  No matter how bad I turned out, I figure they had it coming.

I never liked the name Nancy.Not one day in all my life.  It was extremely old fashioned even then.  I haven't met many other Nancys in my adult life and I have never met a kid born after 1970 with that name.   I'm sure there are kids somewhere who are thrilled to be named Brittney or Shaquira or Susan.  But no kid named Nancy in the history of Earth ever said, "I love my name".  And thus, I dreamed in childhood of being named something else.

In college, I thought seriously about changing my name to Madison or Madelyn.  I'm glad I didn't as Maddy soon-after became a fairly overused name for girls of the 90s.  One of my dear friends has a girl named Madison, in fact.  But beginning with her mother, who, for the record, told me that she would NEVER call me anything other than Nancy, I realized the folly of trying to change my moniker from something I hated to something I could live with.  What I was called wasn't about me.  Apparently, it was about everyone else BUT me.  So, I gave up dreaming and settled into an ordinary life as Nancy.

I got married.  My marriage turned south.  My marriage got violent.  My marriage ended.  And then the harassment began.  My ex decided it was in his best interests to harass me at every given opportunity.  To stop his efforts, I moved several times in quick succession and began to use my middle name.  It appears to have done the trick.  As long as no one clues him in, that is.  But that, my friends, is how I came to change my name as an adult.  Not by choice, but for my own protection.  And I tried, to the best of my ability, to make that change quickly and completely.  I never used the name Nancy again.  I changed driver's licenses, Social Security cards, credit cards, the whole deal.  In one month, it was as if Nancy didn't exist.  I began a new life with a new name.

Having made this change and having found that NO ONE I have met since doing so has batted an eye about what my name should be, I realize that the intractable obstinacy of my friends from childhood--who live in a world where they think their comfort should be primary to my own--is now just getting on my nerves.

My facebook page has no listing of the name Nancy.  And yet, most people I knew from high school or before insist on calling me Nancy.  In public.  After 12 years of being someone else, I wish they'd just stop.  I realize this isn't Earth-shattering stuff here, but I'd rather we just dropped the Nancy business.  One neighbor of mine will call me "Liz".  But invariably adds, "Oh, I just can't do it.  You're NANCY!!!!"  I haven't seen this girl at anything but a high school reunion in 30 years.  We weren't great friends in high school. Why do YOU get to ignore my choices?

And my family hasn't even begun to try.  Not once.  My sister revels in telling everyone that I'm really Nancy. That, too, is getting on my nerves.  Because I'm about to move in with my sister and I don't want to be Nancy again.  Not for her and not for anyone.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I'm not looking forward to going back to Kentucky.

No comments:

Post a Comment