Friday, May 24, 2013

What's in a Name?

I was born a Jennie.  Well, technically a Jennifer.  For my earliest of years that "ie" followed me around everywhere in a sea of "Jenny's."  I was a child of the 80's and it seemed as though I was one among hundreds with the same name.  Yet my mother used the more traditional shortened spelling over the modern one to help me stand out.  Then I turned ten.  And at all of ten years of age, I decided to change my name.  I wanted to be one of the cool kids.  One of those girls who wore NKOTB t shirts knotted at their hip over neon leggings with high tops in a rainbow of colors.  A girl who rocked the side pony and had a cool denim purse.  So I dropped the 'ie' and went with the hip 'y'.  All those yellow number 2 pencils my mother so carefully lettered with my name got scratched clean by me and re-labeled.  Through those awkward middle school years, stretching into high school and early into college I stuck with the jaunty 'y' like it was my talisman against the cliques that shunned me.

But at 20 I was an adult now.  I thought my name sounded entirely too childish.  Dropping the end and going with a simple "Jen" made it somehow grown-up cool.  My college friends all called me Jen.  It was a short and easy name to use.  Entering the world of work, my colleagues used it.  After I married, my name became one word "Jenclark" instead of the short Jen.  I felt like it embodied who I am. 

Yet lately I've noticed something.  My siblings still call me the old Jennie.  So do my parents.  And my uncles and aunts.  Childhood friends use it.  The strangest thing is though, my husband, stepdaughter, brothers-in-law, even my niece and nephews call me Jennie.  Maybe all those years ago my mom just knew that suited me best.  A sweet, old-fashioned, not formal at all name for a girl who is fun, nostalgic, not cool at all, kind of dorky, and embraces her lack of status.  So I'm sticking with it.  Not that I want to change anything, just keep things the way they are...because for those who know me best, I will be able to tell just by the way you answer when I pick up the phone. 

And yes, I can totally hear the "ie" just like Anne of Green Gables could hear the "e" at the end of her name.