I’ve never really thought about my name before. It’s not something we do generally question. It was something that our parents gave us in order to register us, that is the cold hardness, but the actual esoteric connotations of our name are profound, I’ve found.
Since my recent discovery of a new ‘half family’, I have been thinking about my name. Put simply, I’ve lost the knowledge of myself a bit. Yes, technically I still have my name because my ‘Dad’ registered me as his name. However, I know now that technically, I have no physiological attributes belonging to that name. But should names need physiology in order to belong to them? Like some cultural appropriation, is it still acceptable for me to claim a heritage to a line that I have no genetic inheritance to? Likewise, my biological father’s line, do I have any right claiming inheritance to that? By inheritance, I don’t mean material things, I mean the family stories, historical relevance, the handed down story-telling myths that every family has that helps a family bloodline root itself forever in the world and with each other.
I have come to discover that my name has been deeply instrumental in defining me as a person. The name on my birth-cert is very rare and unusual and can be traced back to just one tiny village in the English countryside. There are war heroes, bishops, old country characters, musicians and brewers associated with it. It is a name that people find hard to believe, it gets mistaken as part of my first name, it is very short and makes me ‘ungoogle’able’. I wear this name with pride, even insisting my child took the name. When I was a teenager I used my name as the primary reason to standout and stand up. I played with it when developing my signature, it rolls easily from my mouth like a quirk of language. “Us —-‘s are a bunch of weirdo’s!” I exclaim proudly… but I’m not one. I could buy into the pretence before I made contact with my ‘half family’, but now I have actual proof. There is no denying that I have absolutely zero genetic material belonging to my Dad… My biological father though.. it’s all in the eyes and fore-head.
Now I am part of a tribe that is numerous. With many branches. A name which is made inconspicuous because there are so many of them (us?). I have gone from a rarity, to something much more ‘common’ and I don’t mean that as a put down, merely in the scientific use of the word. I feel like one of the little things that made me ‘special’, has now been rubbed off. I feel like a fraud, I feel like a white man with a sacred head-dress on shaking hands with a First Nation elder, after having learned all his people’s stories and prayers, but not having the blood to ever really feel them or belong.
And there it is. A name is belonging.