My name is Cynthia Ann. I've been Cindy, Cindi, Cynthia and Cyn. Ann has always been just some dangling attachment stuck on for adornment. The only time it ever got used was when my mom was really mad. "Cynthia Ann, you get in this house this instant!"
As a child, I never cared for my name. It was just so common. I was always one of a herd of Cindys at school, and most of us were Cindy Anns. One year, there were eight of us in one class, and the teacher numbered us. Since my maiden name came near the beginning of the alphabet, I think I was Cindy #3. I always wanted a name that would allow me to stand out, just not one so different it was weird or ugly. Considering that most of the names in my family are distinctly uneuphonious, I actually got lucky. Cindy was great camouflage though. Like so many things about me, it gave the cover of propriety while I went about doing my own thing.
In the seventies, my sister changed the spelling of my name to Cindi because it was cuter. I obliged by dotting my i's with little circles, and Cindi I stayed for years. There's only one problem with that. Cute just isn't really my thing. Oh, I like a taste of cute every now and then. I draw distinct lines between cute and whimsical and silly and goofy. Those three have much more appeal for me than just cute. Cute is too light, too bland, too sweet. It lacks edge, and I like life with a few sharp corners and nice collection of shadows.
When as an adult, I transitioned to Cynthia, I was truly surprised at how people reacted. Changing a habit of a lifetime is hard for people, and if friends or family called me Cindy, I understood. What got to me was how people who didn't know me would object to my using my proper name. "Oh, you're a CYN-thi-a, not a Cindy" was drawled out in a haughty voice. Did this happen to Jimmy when he became James? Were my hidden smirks over Bill becoming W. Langdon Smith III (not a real person as far as I know) on his law firm letterhead that same presumption that a person changing was mere pretension and snobbery?
I like my name now. Some see it as too formal or pompous. That's their choice. I see it as just having the gravitas of a womanly name. Cynthia literally means "woman of Kynthos." In Greek mythology, Kynthos was the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, the twins of Leto and Zeus. Leto, hunted down by Hera, Zeus' jealous wife, gave birth first to Artemis, the virgin hunter goddess of the moon. Artemis, then proved just a woman she would be by helping deliver her brother, Apollo, god of the sun. Kynthos has since been another name for the moon, so I am a woman of the moon. How fitting. Though I learned the myths long after my name had taken a firm hold on me, this strikes me as a bit of a chicken and egg appellation. Was I meant to love the moon so? Had it already called me, or did this fixation grow from my name?
When I think about names though, I can never forget that I am adopted, and the odds are that my names were originally entirely different. My mother named me so we would share initials, and I find the idea that I would come to her with two thirds of those initials intact a bit far-fetched. There is part of me that always knows I came very close to being somebody else. Just how different would I be with a different childhood and a different name? What if I had been Candace (Candy) or Bernice (Bernie)? That's a wonderful metaphysical "what if" to ponder.
Especially on a night when the moon is not quite full and we can look at each other as sister and friend.
This entry motivated by Sunday Scribblings.
Sunday Scribblings, names