Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

My birth name is Jill Marie Reeb. First name: short, not terribly common when I was growing up,but very familiar. It cannot be abbreviated and all attempts to lengthen it Jilly, Jill Pill, Jill Bean, Jilly Bean, etc. cannot be used regularly outside my own home and family, at least not for very long. Marie means bitter. Reeb is beer spelled backwards.

So I have endured, Jill,  for now these forty plus years. I have known for a long time that my mom had wished, almost immediately, that she had named me Jillian. And I was quite relieved when I took my married name. Marie means bitter.

And then not so long ago, I found myself living in Scotland. There the name Gillian abounds. I was so pleased and ever so slightly jealous. I continued on as Jill or more commonly as "Maaaah.... m" ! (Mom). I returned to work and struggled with all the challenges of living abroad, being past the baby years, and approaching my middle forties. I realized I had very few interests of my own. I realized that I like working. I realized that this name thing was in my craw. Marie means bitter.

Fairly recently, I found myself preparing to leave Scotland. A most beautiful, magical, and mystical place that has captured me most completely. On that fair island, I grew up a little more and a little less. I discovered the beauty of the earth and a deep appreciation for the farmer and the farm in its cyclic rhythms. I took to walking: whenever, wherever, with whomever. I "rode my bike to work" (I never think of myself as cycling) regularly last spring. I reviewed my story and looked more closely at the bitter parts. I learned to breathe deeply the natural beauty all around. I learned that simple cooking is art and that going slower is better. I danced at a ceilidh and wasn't worried about what anyone was thinking. I drank more: wine, whiskey, and gin, but not too much ! I no longer resist my need to make and find meaning in nearly everything.

It seemed fitting that in all this a new name might fit the bill: Kelly became Kel, Duane became Will, Tony became George. Maybe it was my turn.

So emerges Juniper Gillian Marie McCullough.  Gillian is my nod to Scotland. Juniper is a nod to oh so many things, but gin comes to mind. And Marie means bitter and is related to the word myrrh and the name Mary and is my oldest daughter's middle name, too. And McCullough is my family name.

Just in case you were wondering...

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