Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Who are you?

I have a thing about names. I both suck at them and am very good at them. From a young age I started to name things. All of my dolls have elaborate names like Tiffany Heidi and Mary Catherine. I even renamed myself a few times for various reasons.

My worst habit is renaming other people. I pick names that suit people and call them by that rather than their given name. It can make conversations awkward when I forget what someone's actual name is. I don't know why I do it. Maybe because I was raised in a "Children are seen, not heard - and preferably not seen" house. My mind would need something to occupy it through various gatherings were I was expected to sit quietly and act significantly older then I was. Or maybe it's because my mother's side of the family has nicknamed the kids Dobey, Skip, Kitty and Mimi. Or it may just be that I never thought my own name suited me so I was on a mission to rename everyone else to something that suited them. Who knows.

I often don't think to respond to my own name. Tim figured this out once when we were newly married and at a pow wow. He kept calling my name and I kept dismissing it - it just didn't register. Eventually a low, growling voice loudly stated, "Yo, Wife" from somewhere behind me. That was when I turned and realized my husband was looking for me. Now he calls me that as a sign of affection. People look at him disapprovingly but we both know that I rarely answer to my given name.

My given name is Nancy Catherine. In high school I started trying out different names for myself. I enjoyed the fascination of making the name mean something. Like Zobedia Aura Kilmer could be shortened to ZAK. I imagined ZAK as a tomboy who could take care of herself. Lia Khavern was a mix of a numerology exercise and game I was playing with my boyfriend at the time. He was Lord Khavern. Around this time my mother started callling me Nancietta and in German class I choose the name Katerina (because it was close to Catherine).

After I was married a friend, who we call Bop, started calling me Nan. I remember thinking that it was a very novel name. I still smirk when I think of it. No one had called me that before. The fact that it took 20 plus years for anyone to think to shorten my name, caused me to really research the naming thing again. In my online life - mostly my stock photography work - I'm Azure LaRoux. Azure means blue and LaRoux is "red-head" Translation: Blue eyed, red head. At the time I thought it was clever. It's stuck with me for many years now and some people only really know me as Azure.

A few people refer to me as Catherine or Kate because I use my full name on social media sites. With a last name like Walker there are, surprisingly, a lot of Nancys. For some reason they read the Catherine part but completely miss the Nancy in front of it. I don't mind. I look up at almost any name used because rarely do people remember my actual name. I also get called Mary alot - even by people who don't know that my mother is named Mary. They say I look like a Mary.

Some of the names are simple, like renaming Isabelle to Izzy, or insisting on saying William instead of Will. Others are more complex. Like another friend's daughter that I have called Victoria since birth. I get it wrong so often that my friends all realize I'm actually talking about Leah. (We won't discuss how long I sat here trying to remember Leah's name - usually I have to ask Tim "What is Victoria's real name again?")

My sister got the worst of it. Her name is Janet Marie. I shortened it to J'rie. I thought it sounded French. At some point my brother, David (I just can't call him Dave), got into the act and started calling her June. I think she likes June better.