March 15, 2012
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I don’t like my name. It’s too easy to say it and sound cutting, “EleANOR!” It goes in perfect crescendos and diminuendos. “Eleanor! You haven’t cleaned your room!” Or, “Eleanor, why do you have to do that?” accompanied with a sigh. It’s simple to sound disappointed, angry, or condescending. Nobody will ever have to work to sound angry with my name.
Whenever I tell someone my name is Eleanor, they think it’s so wonderful, so original and unique. But all those fancy words really mean that I don’t have an identity. If you think about it, nobody knows what an Eleanor is supposed to be. You can say, “You don’t seem like a Katie.” Or “You don’t seem like a Sarah.” But nobody will ever say that I don’t seem like an Eleanor because no one knows what an Eleanor is. An Eleanor is a dot on the floor that you notice when you walk by but never place in your mind. It’s like a pretty tree in your house, that at first you thought it was so unique, but then after walking by day after day you don’t really look at it anymore. It floats in your memory, never ground to anything special.
The only time someone attributes my name to some idea is when I tell them my name is Eleanor and they say, “I have a grandmother named Eleanor.” I’m linked with someone who has already lived. Experience has bartered away my innocence already. I should be content to sit back and let someone else take the stage, play their solo. But I’m still new and waiting for my turn for the solo. I want all the opportunities the grandmothers have already had. I want to experience everything, pay away my innocence and then barter it back, and live. Burst open with all of my fire and be golden, not grey haired in white sheets and fluorescent lights.

Other than grandmothers, the other Eleanor’s there are are in history. My mom named me after Eleanor of Aquitaine, the woman that was so incredibly brave and never plagued with indecision, never waited for anything. She took her life in her own hands. I’m not that Eleanor. My dad named me after Eleanor Roosevelt, the most amazing woman he could think of in history. I’m not that Eleanor either. Eleanor Roosevelt took her childhood and turned it around. Everyone knows her name. But when I die, not many will remember me. I know I am more like a different Eleanor: Eleanor Rigby, the old woman that knows nobody who will care enough to go to her funeral, the one that keeps her face in a jar by the window. An Eleanor who is so scared of becoming invisible she becomes invisible.

I imagine that if I had words on my forehead they wouldn’t really say anything. They would be blurry, out of focus, like when you wake up in the morning and have to blink a few times before everything comes together. I don’t know how many more blinks I have before my eyes shut for good. I hope I can get it into focus someday, and that I’ll be the Eleanor they say I was named after. I hope I can be like the moon, not owned by anyone, or at least until the end of Newt Gingrich’s second term. I hope I can be strong like that moon, fighting off the impending space colony. I don’t want a sentimental saraband sung at my funeral. I want a dramatic Shostakovich to commemorate me. When I was a little child I used to hate the idea of becoming famous, now I crave some recognition, some credit, more than anything. If I were an animal I’d be a peacock with the feathers turned the wrong way. I’m just as proud, but I look dull and boring. But remember, if you look underneath all of the layers of plain feathers that make up me, you’ll find the gleaming feathers of me, ready to flaunt every bit of my golden sparks.

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