A Name

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hand-painted wool flannel upholstery fabric
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Today I have been thinking a lot about how challenging it is to sit all day long. I miss my old body so much sometimes.
The following is a chapter from the book I am working on:

A NAME

I never really could get behind my given name, Cathy. The vibe doesn’t fit; too suburban, innocent, not enough gravity. Don’t like the sound or shape of it. My parents told me the choice was between Cathy and Sandy. We’re talkin’ pretty white bread here. I am not white bread. More a complicated mix of unusual but healthy flours mixed with dates and pecans..dark and weighty in that yummy way and satisfying in the mix of ingredients unafraid to have their say is how I’d describe myself if I were a bread.

I host a vague but persistent recognition that my preference was to have been born black. My positive associations with black – skinned people began in early childhood as I was enveloped lovingly in the safety zone of pendulous folds of fat and bosom belonging to the housekeepers who tended my grandmother. The tall and dignified gardener, Tom treated me as real. We talked dirt, bugs, compost and birds sometimes.

I knew I was loved. We laughed so often and sang and got down low and really talked and listened. I was given time. I felt precious. They made me greasy hamburgers in the back kitchen; so good that all the world’s problems seemed fixed and life was very fine.

Later in life I noticed the blacks’ center of gravity was lower than most white folk. They seemed closer to the ground. We white folks are too often firmly ensconced in our heads. They strut or saunter. We stalk.

I suppose I also relate to their lives of “performance.” Give the white folk what they want, how they want, when they want and only then get paid. Get up at 5 and feed the kids then get thyself to the bus, travel over an hour, serve the white man/woman and do it all again the next day. With a smile.

During our days together it was these kind and emotionally adept people who did the connecting, the relating I desperately craved. I owe them so much. I really did feel my life depended on my performances within the family. Be good or be gone.

My dancing skills are very wooden except for my hips. On a vacation to the island of St. Lucia in college my girlfriend and I rented a jeep and adventured to a restaurant high in the damp, jungle-y hills outside of town. The patio looked out over the sparkling sea.

Following dinner a reggae band appeared. They were sort of scary with outrageously long dreads and a dour countenance as they went about setting up. We girls crossed our legs and pressed down chastely on our cotton summer dresses. The evening sky turned very black.

Dinner ended. The two of us sat nursing a drink as the music began. Many of the staff began to dance. All the white patrons sat very still and uncomfortable in their exposed frozen physicality meted unto each through eons of repression.

Two native islander waitresses I recognized from the evening came over to us, suddenly grabbed our hands and pulled two acutely reluctant white girls onto the dance floor.

What else could we do but move? After awhile I noticed other staff coming out from the kitchen to watch. I had dipped so deeply into the reggae-zone that it took me awhile to see their attention was directed towards me and how my white hips instinctively knew the down-low language of their native music. We all danced long and hard. After the fact this was thrilling to me; movement as bridge to “other”. But it wasn’t really so “other” as it was in ME. It’s surfacing surprised me..shocked me even.. I held myself as a very bad dancer up until this point.

Many folks choose to change their name at some point if their given one proves unsatisfactory. A wise person or guru sometimes does the choosing and surrendering into that name is part of the spiritual journey… “Durga” (unattainable), “Chandra” (moon) “Ravi” (sun) are some Santa Fe names I’ve heard.

I’ve always respected the Native American naming way. It is a very complicated process so I’ve read but I am drawn to the thought only one person within the tribe may use a name at one time and as life goes on two or three name changes often occur; “Starblanket”, “He Who Combs”, “Panther Passing Across”; all real and enchanting Native American names.

I would like my name to be: “Fly Girl”.

Not like the act of flying around with wings or motor.

“She be fly.”

More like that.

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comments

3 Responses to “A Name”

  1. Jim Peele on September 21st, 2016

    You soar, Fly Girl! (but I liked Canoe Girl too.)

  2. Rita Kindl Myers on September 21st, 2016

    I enjoyed that, thank you. It is with a grin that I tell you that my sister and I gave each other names. She is ‘Rising Wave’ and I am ‘Twig Flame’. ; )

  3. Debra Moody on September 22nd, 2016

    Right on, Fly Girl! 🙂

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