When I was born my parents couldn’t decide on my name.
Mama wanted Rebecca but because I had coppery hair, Dad wanted Penny. A few
weeks later it was my brother who started calling me ‘Barby’ and it stuck.
Barbie I became, officially Barbara.
I never FELT like Barbara. To me, Barbara was stern, tall
and lacking in humour. A librarian or ballet teacher. Not a vivacious little
freckled, wiggly giggler.
my last name began with S, I was always afraid that one of the alphabetically
earlier Barbaras would claim Barbie so I dreaded the beginning of every school
year. Each new female face was met with trepidation as I’d nervously ask her
name. But most Barbaras were Barbara and Barbie was always saved for me.
suddenly, SHE was Barbie. She was the vision. She embarrassed me because she
was everything. I tried to change my name but couldn’t find one that fit.
Brooks was one I liked but Brooks was a child of wealth, with deep blue/purple
velvet drapes covering windows that looked out over manicured lawns. Not a kid
from the burbs in Delaware.
tell who was on the phone just by hearing what they called me. Barry was from
Lake Tahoe; Berry ~ Daytona and Bara was from Santa Fe. Neither Barry or Berry
were comfortable and Bara was too elegant, like a New York book editor. So when
my cousin called me May, a name tacked to the doorbell of my rented home, it
FELT good. May. Simple. May. Springtime, May.
simple and springtime and sunny. After the long-time marriage fell apart, I was
confronted with the decision of names. Finally my choice was legitimate. I had
hyphenated my last name when I married so I decided to simply turn it around,
honouring my birth family again.
for more than half of my life and frankly, I preferred it to my maiden name.
Also because it kept me on the same page as my children. But I tweaked it.
Once pronounced May Michael, I became Maya Michelle. Fluid, languid, and it had
the sweet bonus that it annoyed the ex. But I took nothing from him, I found
myself instead. There was no more connection to him other than our children.
change. One is that I recently discovered that Santa Barbara is the patron
saint of Thunder. I am in awe of thunder. Now I have a new appreciation and
great pride for my birth name. Barbara, wild, untamed, free…
children have also adopted Michelle as their pronunciation. It flows better. I
don’t know if their dad knows, I don’t know that it matters, it is what it is
and we keep what ever we find comfort in.