When I was in high school, my friends – read: my whole world – only ever knew me by my first name. Even my teachers, when calling students out from a detention list . . . . Mary Bradley, Jody Frazer, Alexander Laferty. . . would reduce me to only two syllables: Mona.
It made me feel original and at the same time simple.
I was well into my twenties before I ever met anyone else with my name. Having reached the peak of my existence up to that point, I was gobsmacked into a sudden case of turrets syndrome; induced by the humbling need to share something that had always been mine and mine alone.
“Nice to meet you, Mona.”
What school did you go to, Mona?”
“Come! Sit beside me, Mona.”
I knew full well that I was over-indulging in the use of her name – my name – but it seemed that the more I said it out loud, the more I needed to hear it. As though letting the two syllables grimace from my lips was a cathartic release of a pent up burden.
This unexpected opportunity to share my name was a swirled mixture of discomfort and relief. Like when you dare yourself to push your tongue against a toothache. Or when you talk back to a teacher for the rock star attention of peer recognition.
Can you imagine being the only person in your world whose name is abused by the intonations of displeased parents?
“What were you thinking, MoanAH?!!”
The truth is that had Mona been introduced to me by any other name than mine, the conversation would have probably ended after, “nice to meet you.” Full stop.
But I was so infatuated with her identity that I wanted nothing more than to make her my best-friend – at least until I got tired of hearing myself use her name like a punching bag of long forgotten shards of glass.
Today, my parents hardly ever say my name the way I used to hear it, on the verge of a cringe. But then again, rebelling against their expectations is no longer my purpose in life.