Juliet:"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
I met a woman today and her name is Sarah. Immediately the name conjured feelings of joy and warmth because my niece shares that name. I think of how closely she resembles me when I was younger, and I’m tickled by the looks she gets to look forward to. I hope she finds as much pleasure in her reflection and body that I do. I think of her quiet and snark. I think of her food joy (anything involving potatoes) and I think of her defiance as a little girl looking me in the face as she poured her dark purple grape juice on my cream colored couch. Her name means so much to me that this woman was automatically shaded in relational love.
It’s like a person that has a first, and then second language as my mom once described it. I don’t actually speak any other languages. Not really. My mom learned English in her late teens after speaking Thai first. She once explained that when she hears a conversation in English, she first translates it into Thai, and then her answer in Thai is translated to English and then spoken. It amazes me the way she thinks. My mom is my hero in so many ways, and her intelligence is the greatest source of my admiration. When I hear a person struggle with English, I think of how amazed I am that they can do what she does.
When this new Sarah introduced herself, I had this inspired moment that probably made me look a little crazy. I asked her what “Sarah” means to her. This was after I explained what it means to me, including the bit about Sarah being the biblical mother of many nations and the more intimate idea of it being about my Sarah Barracuda. She told me about Sally being a nickname for Sarah and a song that goes with it that I have already forgotten. But the name and now the face are cemented for me, and shadowed in kindness that was borrowed from a beloved niece.
The greatest part of that conversation was the idea of “who are you?” that I hit her with. I have moments when I am filled with doubt and fear. These moments look like I’m unable to enjoy the present as I’m focused intently on my future. How are my bills getting paid and what has priority? In these moments when I realize the physical toll of my stress, I remember who I am committed to being to my sons.
I am a brave, courageous, heart led leader. I am a daughter and a mother. I’m an estranged wife going through a divorce and (scandal alert) a girlfriend who feels we’ve both been bashed by the lucky stick. I am not an artist and while I love accounting and finance, numbers are not my friends, but I’m great at stringing words together. I embrace the fact that I’m aging because I love this bolt of lightning time has shaped me into. I’m a bit full of marshmallow fluff and it keeps me warm and curvy. I love what I look like. Mainly I’m a woman capable of love and willing to share my love.
It doesn’t matter what I’m called or how my name is said. You could spit it with venom or your soft lips could whisper it as a caress of sound. Your lips could kiss out the sound as an expression of pleasure or joy.
I know who I am, but who are you, and does your name really matter if you don’t know what it means to you to be who you are? I ask again, who are you?