How Names Define Us and why Names Matter...
Sunday Story by Elena Davis
When I moved to the United States I dreamed of changing my name to Stacy, Kelly, or Jenny. I craved to own a smooth as American peanut butter name. A name everyone said correctly, beautifully, and easily. When we played house I loved when my friends called me, Stacy, it screamed “confidence” and the “American dream” to me. I only wished it carried over into the rest of the school day. Then it was back to “Helena”, “Alana”, “Elaina”...
I never blamed them. Their tongue didn’t move in the same way the Italians say, “Elena”, like a sweet song of grace. Elena means bright shining light. What it represents is how it sounds the Italian way.
My nonno did the same when he called my American friends the Italian version of their name. He couldn’t help it. Later on he did the same with my husband, Jordan,“Giordano”. In his own way he expressed love by calling him what he knew.
It’s habit, familiarity, and comfort. The sounds we know are the ones we feel comfortable mimicking. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t graciously learn the correct pronunciation of people’s names. To me, it’s come to signify, that after a lifetime of hearing my name pronounced a dozen different ways, I still pick, Elena. The hard one to say. The cherished one I learned to love.
My great aunt, Zia Wanda, once told me I’d be grateful for my name someday. A classic Italian name that would always lead me... home. No matter where you go in the world, she said, they can’t take the Italian out of you.Hot tears roll down my cheeks as I think of the confidence she instilled in me.
So, what’s in a name?
YOU TELL ME...
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Written with Amore,