Tuesday, September 15, 2009

naming alterations

I dug out my old fencing mask and glove last night- they still fit fine, and feel comfortable and familiar. They're both neatly labeled in my 7th grade handwriting with my old 7th grade name. Why couldn't I had been more restrained and just put my last name on there? How was I to know that nearly 10 years later I'd be trying to scrub that girl's name off my mask with nail polish remover?

To no avail, I might add- I ended up just scribbling heavily over the offending letters, leaving me with my still-in-favor 'E' with a squat sharpie box close on its heels. I'm not worried about it- besides the fact that no one will even notice, I have no qualms about the fact that the name I chose to put on my equipment as a 12 year old is not the name I'd like to have on there now. (Besides, maybe it used to read "The Eminent Emu!" I was pretty into nicknames for a while in middle school...)

Still, it was a poignant moment to cover over those letters one at a time. I always liked my name as a kid. It was unusual, and beautiful, and I loved to hear the story of how my mom had taken a suggestion of my dad's and shaped it into my name. I'm still fond of those letters, and undoubtedly will always feel a tug when I see them.

For a minute in my early transition, it used to give me knots even to hear the name, not to mention if someone tried to call me by it. Not anymore. I'm not tender there now; that name is fading away from me. I still prick up my ears when I hear it, but I don't turn my head anymore.

I remember a key plot point in an old favorite fantasy novel- the reknowned elfin thief Shadow had been lured into a trap by a wizardly nemesis, who had captured her in a name-circle. She was trapped within a circle inscribed on the floor, whose enchantments were keyed to a particular person's name, such that once that person was tricked into stepping inside the circle, they could never escape. However, to her similarly-entrapped companion's amazement, once the dastardly wizard steps outside, Shadow is able to hurl herself out of the magic circle, sustaining some scorching from fiery sparks but no more. Turns out that the 400 year old elf was actually named Nightshade, but has just been going by her nom de thievery for the past few centuries. She was able to escape, but not without some damage, since, she explains, you can't have everyone calling you something for years and years without it becoming at least partially your name.

Now that I've finished typing out that little anecdote, I realize I'm actually trying to draw a reversed analogy- I'd be held fast by the circle keyed to the name I gave myself, and could step out of one based on my birthname, which is no longer my name, but can still scorch a bit.