A Name is Worth 864 Words
I wanted to be called May. I was about eight years old and no one could pronounce my name. It was silly, with my name only being five letters, yet it stuck a pin in my soul’s side every time someone said my name wrong. It was around this time that I became obsessed with name meanings. I was beginning to want to write, but for the time being, I was just naming my dolls’ names that I thought matched them. Jade like the eyes of one of my favorite dolls. Jaslene after a model I thought was beautiful. Andromeda after a sad constellation. I collected them in books, documented backstories, and planted a seed for my later love-hate relationship with genealogy, cartography, and anything that took names, connected them, and made them into something beautiful.
In tenth grade, we were tasked with writing about our names. I was excited, as I was still knee-deep in fiction (this was before learning that fiction has essentially no payoff but hearing that you write good) and wanted to write a story about my name. I wrote about a Japanese princess whose name represented her perfectly. My teacher stopped me halfway through and said that that was not the assignment and told me to redo it. I instead wrote about how I wanted to bury my name because I didn’t like it. I claimed my alias, AJay, the next day.
Amaya means night rain in Japanese. It is a rare name for a rare person. Only 258 people in the world had it when I was nine in 2008; I’m one of them. I think my name fits me now. Night rain varies. It can be quiet and soft, soothing you as you sleep. It can be a torrential downpour threatening to wash away your livelihood. Some people love it, sad people, romantics, and artists. They see the beauty in the water falling against the dark blues and blacks that paint the night. People draw inspiration from it and sit pondering the meaning of it for hours. Others don’t like it, find it bothersome and scary even. They don’t like the anger or the force behind it.
Night rain defines me because love it or hate it, night rain doesn’t give a damn what you think about it. The love is flattering. It paints a beautiful picture, gives meaning where there was none, and makes others fall in love with it too. The hate is also flattering. It spreads a message, it adds depth to the meaning that wasn’t there in the first place, and it carries more passion than love ever will. But, neither stops the rain. Telling a rainstorm that you love it doesn’t make it appear where it isn’t ready to happen yet, and telling the rain you hate it doesn’t make it go away. Night rain appears, occurs, and moves on with its life.
For years, I had wanted to be May. I wanted to be forgettable, seasonal, to come and go without incident. I wanted to fade, but I can’t because I wasn’t made to fade away. I was blessed with the ability to speak, with some sentence enhancers and analogies/figurative language, eloquently and uniquely. I was blessed with the uncanny ability to describe and create things. I was created to blow in, fuck shit up, and wander out gracefully. I have grown to like my name, though my family and friends yelling all the damn time has made me uninterested in hearing it said again.
So, I stay AJay in my writing because I will never answer to AJay in person. I’m not joking. I made the foolish decision to try to change my name when I entered college and now spend a lot of my time telling people to not call me that. That name has grown apart of me too. It’s my alias for trolling online (we all need a hobby), my name for writing, and the person getting charged for most of my stupid purchases (Hello, Sims expansion packs, goodbye paycheck!) I keep AJay around because I like him (as it’s a Sanskrit boys name, I refer to my alias as a him). I have always liked the idea of a nickname and I came up with it myself since the closest thing I get to a nickname is some idiot forgetting the A and calling me “Maya”.
I enjoy my name like I enjoy the parts of Singin’ in the Rain where the two women sing. I love the humor and awfulness of Lena, the woman that “can’t” sing (She actually sang her own parts. Old film knowledge) and the beauty of the voice of the woman that Debbie Reynolds played. That’s why I like my name. There are all of these parts to it, and to me, that makes it enigmatic, fantastic, and so damn fun to yell apparently. In the event that you fall in love with it too and plan to name your first/one of your offspring after me, give that kid a break and give it a nickname. Just a little advice that I would go back in time and tell my parents.