We all know that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But how would the rose feel being called something else?
Let me explain what I mean by this and the origins of this question.
This weekend, as has happened a few times this summer, my sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces came to the Cape. Noa is 2-and-a-half years old, and since it will take her until she’s 16 to be able to say “Uncle Alexander,” since she’s been calling me anything (which is a hair over a year, I guess…when the other one was born and I was in CA to visit), she’s called me “Aladi.” (my brother Brett is “Uncle Ba”, and my parents are “Ni-ma” and “di-pa”.)
Maya is now 14 months old, and this weekend was the first time she’s called me a name. And, of course, it was “Aladi.” (For her, my parents are “mi-ma” and “bi-pa”…either she heard it wrong the first time or she has a speech impediment, but either way…) My parents have had names for months. My brother, I’m honestly not sure about, but me, I’ve never had a name. She’s tried, but she’s failed. (I mean, it’s hard to say any possible name for me…my parents should have thought of this when naming me, but didn’t.)
She knows me, obviously, and for a couple months, when asked “where’s Aladi?” has been able to point me out, but she’s never called me anything until now. And it felt really good. All day today, she was looking at me, “Aladi!” I took her swimming because when my sister asked who she wanted to go swimming with, she just kind of looked around and looked towards me. “Bi-pa?” ::nods no.:: “Mommy?” ::nods no.:: “Aladi?” “Aladi!”
I love this kid, and did before she called me by name, but it wasn’t the same. I felt great seeing her look at me and having her crawl to me and any time she put her arms out to be held by me, but to be across the room and hear her say “Aladi” is a feeling that melts me.
So in this case, I consider myself the rose. And by any other name – or with no name – I was the same person. I “smelled as sweet,” if you will, but I feel much sweeter being called a rose.
My first girlfriend used to insert my name into conversation when talking. She said that she’d read or heard somewhere that people like hearing their name and it makes them feel good and she wanted to do whatever it took to make me feel as good as humanly possible. I never really noticed a conscious difference because I was too busy looking at how she looked at me to realize the name, but looking back, I see how her face would change when she said my name and how all the love she had for me came out in the simple utterance of “Alexander.”
With my latest girlfriend, I made sure to use her name. I think it was mostly subconscious, because she hated it – which makes me sad, but that’s a story for another blog entry (when I have permission from her to talk about her, because I will never divulge anything too personal without permission…and since she isn’t talking to me, I bet that time will come never…but I digress). I think I did it because I loved the way it felt to say her name. I loved how it felt to say a name that made me that happy and made me feel that much love, which I had not felt in such a long time.
I guess names still matters. And I like mine. And I like having it. And I like when it’s used and when I’m addressed by it, by anyone, regardless of age.
It seems to me that in the end, you never really notice how good a name makes you feel until you realize how long you’ve gone without one.