Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Rose by any Other Name

I recently read Cheryl Strayed's Wild. It was an interesting memoir. I didn't fall in love with it and I certainly wouldn't enthusiastically recommend it to every person I meet. With that said, I did enjoy the read. And it is worth reading if you've got a bit of free time and are interested in hiking, the California wilderness, or a woman's quest for healing and discovery.

(Images from my Instagram... Yeah, I took those. Cool, huh?)

I finished reading Wild in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, not far from the famous Appalachian Trail. Since a good portion of this book takes place in the mountains of California and Oregon on The AT's sister trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, I found Strayed's descriptions to be fascinating and vivid. I almost wanted to don a backpack and hike the oh-so-close AT 'till my toe nails fell off. Ok, no, that's a lie. I didn't want that at all.

Anyway, the author, Cheryl Strayed, writes about how she changed her name after she and her husband Paul divorced. "...I pondered the question of my last name, mentally scanning words that sounded good with Cheryl and making lists of characters from novels I admired. Nothing fit until one day when the word strayed came into mind. Immediately I looked it up in the dictionary and I knew it was mine. Its layered definitions spoke directly to my life and also struck a poetic chord..."

The passage got me thinking about what name I would have chosen had I decided not to keep my married name after my divorce. As a person passionate about words, it seemed like a really difficult and permanent change. I mean, your identity is wrapped up in your name. The thought of making the choice for myself seems too big, too scary.

I, too, would probably have first thumbed trough the list of character names from novels that made an impression on me. (Amy Eyre...) I would have very seriously considered Beckham--for obvious reasons. I would have given way too much thought to the significance of choosing a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc. Would it be an English word? Or something less obvious like a sexy French word that translates to an English word that carries significance in my world? (Amy Paroles, perhaps?)

I'm so glad glad that I didn't have to face the pressure of picking a name. I just had to pick the right guy to give me a new name. That happened, gasp, last week. But that, my friends, is a post still to come.

If you got to pick a last name that fit you, what would it be? Why?

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