If I had been born a boy, my name would be Anthony. I’m not particularly fond of the name, but I imagine Tony would’ve suited me fine. I once had a crush on a boy named Tony in high school. His name matched his friendly, brown eyes. He was an artist. Sometimes, when class dismissed, he’d give me his drawings.

I wasn’t born first. Jennifer, my twin sister, was born five minutes earlier. Nicolas was her boy’s name. If I were born first, and a boy, I’d tell people to call me Nico.

My name was Rebecca for the two, short beginning hours of my life. Then, my parents decided they didn’t like the sound of Becky.

Growing up, I sometimes imagined my alternative Rebecca life. Rebecca’s hair was curly, not stick-straight like mine. She had freckles. My favorite and prettiest dolls were named Rebecca, after my first true name.

My childhood name was Debbie. My father, and friends who haven’t seen me for years, still call me Debbie. I liked Debbie well enough. I liked that I didn’t meet too many others with my name. Jennifer had no such luck. I longed to be an original like the boy in my grade school whose name was Yarrow. His father was a botanist.

I was never really teased because of my name. Some of the boys snickered and made harmless jokes when they found Little Debbie snacks in their lunch boxes, but it never bothered me. My biggest struggle was writing my name in cursive. I could never make the D look grand enough. It was always too fat or flat or floppy.

Deborah is my adult name. But, I chose it when I was young and impressionable. Changing my name to Deborah corresponded with leaving my childhood home. After meeting the sophisticated and intellectual Deborah Diamond in my freshman college dorm, I decided to change my name. The new uncertainty and insecurities I was met with at college told me that changing my name would make me confident. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I introduced myself as Deborah, but for a long time, it felt like a fib. Inside, I was still Debbie.

I don’t remember when exactly, but I did grow into my name. Similarly, I have also come to love my name. Sometimes, when I hear my name, I find myself smiling because I think that it sounds beautiful.

11 thoughts on “Name”

  1. The mystery is solved. I have so enjoyed reading your slices, and I must admit my curiosity was peaked by the letter D . I started giving you my own names And Imagined i that lone initial stood for something strong and unique and powerful.- like you’r writing.Sometimes you were December sometimes Devan. You were Diamond for a blog or two and once Djuna…nothing stuck nothing was right , But Debbie feels perfect.

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  2. I love this post! I found myself reflecting on my name and the difference in how people I know you use it. Close family calls me “Mally”, strangers call me Mallory. I may need to use this as inspiration for a slice of my own! Interesting reflection!

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  3. I think many of us have a love/hate relationship with our names. I was, and still am Bobby to family and friends I knew growing up. When I started teaching it was Bob. Robert was just used when I was in trouble. Great post.

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  4. I love this name reflection. I am Adrienne, and would have been Adrian if I;d been a boy. I am a twin too. Alas, my twin, who is 4 minutes older, is named Andrea (she would have been Andrew). You parents were wise to choose two dissimilar names. We had no end of trouble as children, even though we look not at all alike. We were not allowed to have nicknames as my dad had one as a kid and hated it.

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  5. I love this! We all have a relationship with our names…and now I’m going to be thinking all day about mine. And I wonder what my kids will think of theirs 25 or 50 years from now?? I changed my name from Katie to Kate after college, but now I’m back in my college town so I’m having a funny rebirth of Katie. My kids are confused. It’s not so important and makes me feel a little younger being called “Katie” again so… 🙂

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  6. Aren’t names funny? I wrote about my name several years ago during March. I never liked my name because it was unlike any other name. Debbie was a popular name when I was in school. That is the name I would have selected if it were up to me. Then when the teacher called out Debbie, it wouldn’t have to be me. I gave myself a blogging name from my initials, LC. My real name is LeAnn and no one else ever had that name, plus it was weird to have a capital in the middle of the five letters. I don’t know what my parents were thinking when they picked this out. Since I didn’t like a unique name, I created a rule for naming my child. This name had to be found on the bike license plate spinner in stores. I wanted one of those plates so badly, but never could find one with my name. Your topic today has lead to mini slices in your comment box. How fun!

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  7. Wow, Deborah, so powerful. Your post reminded me of Andy Rooney. He always made everyday things enjoyable to hear about., with lots of asides. Your post is just lovely–so cute, sweet and reminiscent. Like others said in their comments, it reminded me of my own name. Early (in utero) my name was Lisa Lorraine. I always had daydreams about being Lisa instead of Denise.

    Thanks for sharing,

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  8. Names are so interesting, aren’t they? As a mom, I know why I chose all three of my boys names. My name was chosen because my mom had three close friends named Carol, so that’s what I got. I am thankful I didn’t get stuck with Penny or Robin, as both were in the running!

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  9. There’s so much to a name and so much to how we own our name. Your post addresses this in such an interesting and thought -provoking way. Now you’ve got me thinking of all the names I respond to and love. Maybe that will be my next slice.

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  10. I love how you wove in the nuances of who you are and who you might have been. I have a very unusual name and if I had not been born on my mother’s best friend’s birthday, a best friend named after an Hispanic housekeeper long ago, I would have been Colleen Dineen….I am pretty sure that rhyming names would not have been fun in Middle School!

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