When I was 11 I changed my name.
Before you think that I grew up in a progressive household where I changed my name to moonbeam or rainbow think again! ……I grew up in a hippy household where I changed my name from Musicwind.
Essentially I didn’t completely change my name I just dropped a few and started going by my middle name.
My un-shackled and freedom expressing parents named me Usa-Samantha Musicwind Leftfield. Imagine the hiphen as a star and you have a piece of my mom’s vision for her baby girls name on paper.
Up until I was 11 there was not a first day of school or introduction that I didn’t have to say my name at least three times, eventually spelling it and correcting the newly introduced person by slowly sounding my name out again. This would often elicit confused and bewildered looks. Hoping to take away any confusion I would tell the whole story of why my name was Usa.
How my mom named me after the United States of America. Pronouncing the well known initials U S A as one combination, it’s not you-sa it’s oosahh. It’s not German, it’s made up. It’s creative. An exasperated sigh Yes, I’m named for the country!
When I was 11 I was moving to a new state and starting middle school, two completely life changing events. How thank full I am that my un-tethered and freedom loving hippy mom had the decent sense to allow ME to contemplate and ponder how I would change my name. It became a conversation, taking a at least several days, and when we were good and ready we went down, the two of us to the official name change office and changed our names together! She was making her self appointed name choice of Feather official while I was dropping my original name for a more subdued version.
I kept Usa. I dropped Musicwind and Leftfield- my mom’s self given last name for us. I’ll bet you could guess why she chose that. I also started to “go by” Samantha, my middle name.
As you could imagine now I was the one who was empowered and liberated when, in each of the 7 new classes of middle school on the east coast I heard Samantha and simply said “here”. I didn’t need to backtrack, lay down the family history or enunciate my name repeatedly.
Even my Mom did not hesitate or fail to support me in my name change and Usa became a silent partner – there but not there. I would share the story now as a lunch table anecdote, a get to know me better fact. It wasn’t something that beleaguered my shy youngness but it was still there in MY story and I noticed a funny thing happening.
In the world at large as I grew up, the overwhelming current of acceptance has been, and is palpable.
My name story currently comes up in my life numerous times a month. Now, it’s usually at a store and with perfect strangers, and my name Usa is accepted with fanfare and cheers. Because it’s on my license and my credit cards it comes up almost every time I show these cards at the cash register.
I have a short version and a long version of the story at the ready depending on if someone is behind me in line and almost all of the time I leave the store happy to be me and have the mom who had the gutts to name me after a country she loves!