Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Jennifer in Delaware

Jennifer B., 33: 
In truth, I've always hated my name.  I grew up Jennifer May Lane before becoming Jennifer B. after my marriage.  Everyone called me either Jenny or "Penny Lane."  The most-hated of my acquaintences called me Jennie May.  I still remember each of them with ire. 
At a former job, while working in an executive position, I heard a contracted event planner approach our receptionist and announce she had arrived to see Jenny.  I kindly informed her that I preferred Jennifer.  Throughout the next    eight months of our working relationship she sneered when she said my name.
After 33 years with my name, I am still amazed that people find so much difficulty in spelling something as simple and common as "Jennifer." 
"Spelled the normal way?" they'll ask.  I've thought of changing the spelling to Geonuphur.  Is there an abnormal way to spell a name?
My original high school diploma had "Jan Lane" written on it.  A seemingly endless line of teachers wrote "Jenny" despite my objections.  After Forrest Gump, it got worse.  I've always said, "I answer to Jennifer or Jen."  But people will call me what they will.
To me, "Jennifer" became a name I couldn't own.  People would make what they wanted of it and a part of my identity was held capitive.  To me, a name is a thing to hold dear.  It is how we identify ourselves.  We take on attributes of our name.  Words take on association in societies and have meaning deeper than their surface intent and, in my environment, I am often assumed to be boring, common, not unique. 
How very wrong they are!  

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