Photo by cora
I've always been proud of my name. Well not my first name really but my surnames? Most definitely. I have many. In Latin America, like the wearing of a precious coat, we carry the names of our forbears with snobbish conceit. Though there is an inherent element of elitism in the whole stubborn exercise especially when in this modern age we tend to compress, shorten and acronym most every word into nothingness - not to mention unintelligibleness - we Latins continue to cling to the names of our ancestors for reasons of pomp, more often than not remembrance and quite likely, a frequently misplaced sense of amour propre.
Let's backtrack here a second. Why don't I like my first name? Well I like it now, but not as a child growing up and it was because of the nickname of course. I was always frumpy Mili to my intimates and knowns. I mean really! Mili? That's like an old maid name I reflected; what your retired neighbor calls her Daschshund or the little parakeet she keeps in the pink cage. There's nothing sophisticated about a Mili and I, most definitely, wanted - sophistication.
In my 30-student high school class, there was a Tatiana, a María Cecilia, a Michelle and a Carin. Those were sexy names. Why couldn't I have been called any one of those? With passion, I so wished they were mine. Up until my teenage years I envied my sister and her own nickname. At home we called her Alexa or Alex. I was so envious of Alexandra's 'informal' name that when my Confirmation came around, at that precise moment when the priest asks you for the name you have selected in this, your second baptism, I said the name I'd wanted and refused to divulge to my mother for weeks. It was my choosing. I stood by my choice.
"What do you wish to be called for your second name?" The priest intoned.
"Alexandra," I replied.
I heard my mother's outraged gasp crystal clear down the nave of the church, but I kept my eyes trained on the priest and stuck to my guns. The uproar I caused was only beginning to die down when my little sister said loud enough for the Pope in Rome to hear:
"Mami? Does that mean that I will have to choose Milena when my own confirmation comes?
In a voice filled with my own doom my mother replied: "Certainly not! and 'Milena Alexandra Castulovich Montes, del Rosario, Caballero y Urtunduaga will get what's coming to her when we get home!"
Photo by cora