A Rose By Any Other Name Would Not Smell As Sweet

Written in response to: Start your story with the narrator or a character saying “I remember…”... view prompt


Coming of Age LGBTQ+ Transgender

"I remember the day I got to choose my own name."

Names are interesting things, are they not? You're branded with them before you have any idea what anything is in the world. Perhaps you had it before you even had a proper heartbeat, or ears and eyes, and felt it when someone cooed it to you.

They both make your identity and give you cause to rebel against it. Boyish, girlish, beautiful when you feel ugly, or ugly in sound, ridiculous. Those are just a few of the ways to interpret one's name, and everybody does it.

Everybody wonders what if... I was named something basic, exotic, hard to say, easy to say? And we have them forever.

They're stamped on our documents, but more, on our souls. When we think of ourselves, sometimes the first thing anybody hears about themselves is a name. And sometimes they don't fit.

It's not like when clothes don't fit, you can get rid of clothes. But what to do about a name that no longer fits? That has never encapsulated anything you are or feel?

My name never fit. It was short, and ended with a very definite masculine tone. You know those kinds of names: Adam, John, Jake, David.

I had hated it from the moment I could properly think. I think age 5 or 6, and I used to name myself.

Pretty, beautifully long names. Penelope, Iolanthe, Vivianne. Feminine, open, beautiful.

They were my daydream names, what I called myself secretly, what I signed on online forums, valentines cards.

With that name, came freedom. Came a blurry, emerging identity of a long-haired woman, walking towards me. I narrowed my eyes and squinted, and stared for hours but her image remained fuzzy, intangible.

I wanted to be her and wondered if I ever could.

But secret names cannot be hidden for long. And soon my parents knew, and my family knew that their shortly, blunt-named child was not what they'd expected.

The woman in the distance got a bit clearer.

Only later in life did I hear the horror stories of families disowning their children or worse.

But my family accepted it. Their traditional stories had plenty of characters who existed in between, my mother said, eyes full of tears.

They never made me feel that they wanted Adam or David, that I was depriving them of some kind of legacy. They told me they wanted me.

So slowly, very slowly, like a glacier inching down a mountain, the changes started. We met with so many doctors, so many talkers. The waiting rooms of one office or another became a second home to me, and that's where I met her.

She sat down next to me, on the phone, a cluttered handbag thudding onto the floor next to her heels.

And the woman in my vision gained height with heels. The woman next to me spoke firmly, but kindly, and her smile was well worn with the beginning of wrinkles, but beautiful. Her style was eclectic, nails shiny and long.

And she was kind, throwing me a polite grin as she got up to see the doctor.

I had never felt so represented.

Slowly, there started to be actual changes. My pronouns, my clothes, hair.

My parents indulged my desires and we spent an afternoon painting the walls of my room a pretty blue. They never let me feel freakish, and dismissed relatives that did.

Before my body's changes, I wanted to change my name.

My mother pulled up books, and records and we argued for hours. Both of us had different opinions on what constituted a good name.

I longed for the drama and beauty of a mythological, fancifully feminine name, even though I didn't put it like that when I was younger.

No, I said, "I want a pretty name!"

But my mother dismissed Persephone, Hyacinth, Psyche. "My darling," She said, "Those women had terrible things that happened to them, and while the name is pretty, the first thing that comes to mind is someone else's story. Go for something strong, something that you can make your own story with."

In the next round of eliminations, we tossed out Hippolyta, Arabella, Anastasia, Boudicca.

By now, the changes to my body had begun, and I'll be honest, my expectations were ridiculously higher than they should have been. It's hormones, not plastic surgery. But at least I felt more...me.

The distant woman now had my dark hair, long and silky. Her hips were smooth curves, less squared.

I adored her, and longed for the day that I could properly name her.

My mother and I arrived at a handful of names we both loved: Alexandra, Siran, Genevieve, Eveline.

Secretly, I removed Siran and Genevieve from consideration. Siran was too short, too hard, and Genevieve too old and inflexible. Alexandra would appease my mother, but I longed for Eveline.

It was pretty, light, a beautiful name.

And I remember the day I got to sign my new name. Eveline. The last name didn't even matter. I was Eveline, nicknamed Eve, a quintessentially, heartbreakingly feminine name.

So much of what I'd felt, how I'd acted my whole life, what I'd thought solidified into that name. It was there now. That's who I was.

And a little bit, I died gleefully every time it was used, every time I asked for a coffee order. Eveline, said with a voice I was carefully smoothing and arranging into something that was me.

I couldn't stop saying it, drawing it, doodling it.

A little bit, I became scared of glancing in mirrors. Dressing up, I did, with great gusto. I didn't accept myself to dress in depressing clothes.

Colours, patterns, hairstyles. But not my reflection, no. I was scared. Scared to know that I wasn't there yet.

And my father noticed.

Gruffly, with no small amount of irritation, he turned me towards the mirror.

"What are you so afraid of? Nobody, no one looks in the mirror and sees themselves as perfect. Don't be stupid, and don't be scared of you."

And he waited while I stared, wide eyed at the girl in the mirror.

She was perfect. And the woman in my vision smiled in my reflection.

"Happy now?" My dad asked, releasing my shoulders. "You're a brave girl, don't let anybody make you hide. Not even yourself."

I nodded, turning to hug my dad.

I'll always remember choosing my name, and becoming who I'm supposed to be.

April 05, 2022 17:06

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