Dearest things that are called humans,
Jeez, that title is way too long, but it is accurate. Once again it is a beautiful blueberry day here in St. Louis and I am just loving it. Clearly it is a perfect day to sit with my wonderful friend Amanda in a coffee shop and write indoors. You know, where the sunshine isn’t. Allow me to flashback to last week in order to set the stage:
On Valentines’ day I had the joy of spending most of it in a dental urgent care. I sat there patiently waiting and listened to all the names being called that were not my own. “Maria,” the receptionist called. At the sound of the familiar name, the thoughts in my mind began a ballet within my head and triggered something wonderful. Maria is my grandmother’s name; and if you know me or have been a reader for some time, you know that that my grandmother is my favorite person in all of existence. Well, a few people are on that list, but she’s at the very top.
Last year I made the decision to change my name (link at the bottom that explains why). I chose Eleanore Estelle, roughly translating into the one shining star, a meaning I put together purely out of love and hope for myself to be able to triumph over every one of my struggles. Since changing my name I have been happier than ever. Changing my name in turn changed my life for the better, which was exactly what I had hoped for. I feel like I am genuinely myself and I have continued to become more myself as I carry on through my life with my new name that I hold so dear to my heart.
All that behind said, from the start of my decision I realized that I was missing a middle name. The past year I have been ruminating almost daily about what I might make it. I thought of having no middle name at all. They’re not entirely mandatory. In fact, neither of my grandparents had middle names because in Europe at the time it simply wasn’t the fashion. Still I felt that maybe I should have one, though what I wanted it to be was little more than a giant question mark constantly floating above my head like a confused Sim.
Flash forward to the dental urgent care on Valentines’ Day, a patient that carries the same name as my darling grandmother sets me on a path of discovery. I thought to myself how lovely it would be to have my middle name honor my grandmother, a woman who for the past 30 years has been the savior, heroine, and caregiver of my siblings and I.
I pondered more, feeling a spark of something that wouldn’t quite catch. I resolved to leave the idea open in my mind’s attic for whenever I chose to revisit it, if ever. After my four hour dentist appointment, I went to see my Valentine and did my best to leave my spiraling thoughts and anxieties at rest. I drove back home later that night chasing a moonlit freeway. My brain clicked on yet again, the thoughts about my middle name dropping down from my attic into the very center of my concentration. “Marie,” I thought. “My middle name should be Marie!” I turned up my music, and I wiggled with pleasure at my decision.
My inspiration for my middle name is only half due to my desire to honor my grandmother. The rest comes from two years ago, when I had the most difficult surgery and medical experience of my life which I honestly didn’t think I’d survive. I had several amazing nurses, two especially that without I would not have been able to withstand the stress, sorrow and pain I was experiencing. One was named Angelica, a sweet, compassionate and humorous woman who was the first person I saw when I awoke from my anesthesia induced slumber. The other was all of that and somehow even more, taking the time to pay extra attention to me whenever she could, brushing my long hair every morning and every night, and after only the second day of my week long hospitalization deemed herself my “hospital mother,” showering with compassion to compensate for my lack of support during what seemed like an impossible part of my life. Her name was Marie.
Marie and my grandmother, Maria, are two of most compassionate, mighty, and fervent women I have met in my life, and to share a name with them both would be a tremendous honor. Unfortunately I cannot have either of their blessings in this decision. My grandmother has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know that I changed my name at all, or most other things about me. I have no way to contact Marie (though I intend to try, because I want her to know all of this). Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that they would be pleased by how deeply and permanently they have impacted my life.
I hope to legally change my name as soon as possible. The only obstacle stopping me is the lack of money. Until then, I can still own my true self in as many ways possible, and I am overcome with joy that after far too long, I finally have a meaningful, powerful, and positive name that truly reflects who I am.
Eleanore Marie Estelle – that’ me you guys!
Marie, come out tonight, you could be my Valentine.
Marie, you’re center stage, you’re the soul for the new age.
I will be the leper, read me my last rite;
A crippled believer, give me sight.
To read about why and how I changed my name, click right here! Do it! No really, you should!