naming me

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I always wanted a nick name. I tried to cautiously insert one myself. That strategy never works. Instead, I was always called my name with the last “A” dropped off. I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t love it either. And it didn’t qualify as a true nickname.

I was 29 when I finally succeeded.

“You should do it now when you are moving,” my friend said. We were sitting on a rocky beach in Seattle, talking about my fruitless pursuit of an alternative. This was a last hurrah trip shortly before I was to take another job in another area.

For the rest of the trip, she began introducing me with a new name.

It’s one thing to play along with a friend, it’s another to decide you are going to change your own name. The decision came impulsively with the first person I introduced myself to in my new town. “Hi, I’m A…,” I said. The name sounded foreign on my lips … insincere … strange. But the person believed me. They accepted that answer and shook my hand without blinking.

At first, when people called me by my new name, I had to remind myself of who they were talking to. A few times, the name would float in the air unanswered, until the realization bubbled to my mind – that’s me.

It’s been five years since then and something funny happened. I became that new girl they called by a shorter name. The new name fits me now, as if I was a toddler who grew into big shoes. Now my old name sounds foreign and unnatural. As a group of friends used the old name recently, I had to remind myself that they were talking about me.

My friends from my past life give me sideways glances when they find out. They insist I am who I was. My new friends are incredulous I ever had another name. They insist I am who I am now.

It seems silly that I would change my name at 29. It did to me even as I was making the change. But looking back, I realize I needed that new identity at the time. I needed to start fresh. To disconnect from the person I had become. To take a new paint brush and fill in the letters of who I was with new colors.

It was in giving myself a new name, I found the person I wanted to be.


6 thoughts on “naming me

    Nicole Hudley said:
    December 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Great story! Wait, so what was the name with A dropped off?

      alli w. responded:
      December 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks! It’s Alish, short for Alisha. You see my point. 😉

        Nicole Hudley said:
        December 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm

        So is that pronounced “Aleesh”?

        alli w. responded:
        December 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

        Yep. 🙂

    Ben said:
    December 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    You are Alisha 🙂

      alli w. responded:
      December 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      I always will be to you Ben. I’m ok with that. 🙂

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