Once upon a time, there was a girl who wasn’t quite ready to be a woman yet. She thought she might like some things about it, but certainly not all. In fact, the number of somethings she thought she might like were only two, so that’s not many. And, when she tried to think what they were, she could never quite remember…
The girl had been born with a flamboyant red curl on the top of her head, and so her father labelled her ‘Ginger’. The label quickly became a name, inscribed in royal-blue ink on her birth certificate, and maybe that was part of the problem. A problem that grew as she grew. Because Ginger was the name of a spice (or a cat) and not a woman’s name at all. It couldn’t even be labelled ‘female’. It was a spice (or a cat) and, however much the girl didn’t want to be a woman, she wanted to be a spice even less.
She thought a lot about changing her name. In the middle of the night, she would wake with a start and say ‘Angelica! No… that’s a jelly/fruity thing’. And once, ‘Candida!’… but wasn’t that a fungal infection?
It was not easy at all to find a new name. The plain names were worse than having no name at all. The old-fashioned ones made her feel… well… old. The fancy names made her want to hide under the bed.
She thought, perhaps, the right name would make her feel more comfortable to become a woman, so she flirted with the most feminine names she could find; Fleur… Sylvie… Madeleine… Gisele. They were almost entirely French, and beautiful to say out loud. But the problem was, when she tried to pin them down, they floated away on the most delicate butterfly wings. She was too scared of harming them to give chase.
And then, someone came along who changed everything.
He was nineteen, which was one year older than her. But the thing that drew her to him was that he wasn’t quite a man yet. He was one of those young men who is still called a boy sometimes – not so often as to become a problem, but just enough to be a compliment. Many boys can’t wait to be men, but this man-child was happy to hold on to his boyhood for a bit longer.
He didn’t call Ginger a woman, he called her a girl.
‘Hey, girl,’ was the first thing he said to her, laughing as they collided on a windy hill in the park. He was spinning haphazardly on roller skates and she was blowing bubbles from a bottle, watching them spiral into the wild sky and not looking where she was going. “Hey girl, what’s your name?”
She thought for a moment. What was her name? If she was going to change it, now was the time.
A new name for the new boy.
“Amy,” she said.
Because she wasn’t entirely sure she was an Amy, she hesitated, and said the name without conviction. The blustery wind noticed and whipped the word away before it could reach the boy’s ears.
The boy frowned at her and skated closer to hear better. “What did you say?”
The wind buffeted Ginger about a bit to blow some second thoughts into her.
“Ginger,” she said with a defeated shrug. “My name is Ginger.”
But the boy didn’t say ‘I had a cat once called Ginger’, or ‘That’s a spice, isn’t it?’. Instead, he said with a smile: “Ginger? That’s an awesome name.”
And, despite the cold wind, she found herself glowing on the inside and blushing on the outside, warm from head to toe.
Together, they decided they should try to be a girl and a boy just that little bit longer. Until they felt ready for the other labels that didn’t feel quite right just yet.
It didn’t take long.
Three years of happiness behind them, Ginger felt a flutter in her stomach that was nothing to do with her stomach and, soon after, that the tiniest baby girl was born. Ginger looked at her baby and her baby looked back at her through brand new eyes.
“Hey, girl,” she whispered, ignoring the flamboyant red curl on the top of her baby’s head. “Hey girl, what’s your name?”
QUESTION TIME: Did you ever feel that your parents chose the wrong name for you? Did you give yourself a different one?
Photo Credit: Misha Voguel (Pexels)