Ever since Katie's new teacher wrote "Katherine" on her name tag, Katie wants to go by that. It's her legal name. It's on her birth certificate for when its time to prove she's eligible to run for president.
We started out calling her "Kate," because Will and I both love the nickname and Katherine seems like too much of a name for a little baby. But when she was about four and started writing her own name, she asked if we would call her Katie instead of Kate.
"Why?" I tried not to act too disappointed. It's her name, not mine. But I'd always thought Katie sounds too "goody-goody" and Kate sounds bright and beautiful. Like Becky Vs. Becca.
"Because it's me," Katie, I mean Katherine, said. This is going to take some getting used to.
I always wanted to be called Becca. In second grade I asked the teacher and my classmates if they could call me that instead of Rebecca or Becky like most of them did. Becca never stuck. People already knew me as Rebecca or Becky. Like me, now, trying to call my daughter Katherine, a name I have not been calling her the entire six years I've known her. Except when she's in trouble. That's parenting 101.
Most people in my family of origin call me Beck or Becky. Will calls me Becky. My friends and co-workers call me Becky, at least when I'm being nice. I like "Beck" but it sounds too incomplete. Becca is both cool and beautiful. She can assemble a tent by herself in ten minutes. She's always prepared with dried fruit and nuts in her bag. She gives away all her money and doesn't worry about what tomorrow will bring. Becca knows that life is short and that we should cease the daily drudgery and live and love with less concern for rules and more concern for doing the right thing.
I am not Becca. I aspire to be her, but I am not. I am Becky, like it or not. I'm kinda cutesy and kinda fusty and kind of bitchy. I'm your grandma who once worked for Greenpeace but who now fidgets in the car until we get to the parking lot of the Phish show and see that your grandpa Will was right after all: you can bring your own beer and drink it in the parking lot before the show. As it turns out we are not going to get busted by the cops and thrown in jail, so my shrieking, "I'm a forty-one year old mother, Will! I have responsibilities to my daughter" when he gently informed me he had packed a cooler of my favorite beer in the trunk was for naught. But I say I'm sorry for my naughty bout of crankiness and smile in Becky's cutesy way, and so I'm forgiven yet again.
Even so, Rebecca is the least likable of the Becky/Becca/Rebecca name. Rebecca is reserved and unknowable. The name I always went by at first when starting a new school. Rebecca should have been the name of Ally Sheedy's character in "The Breakfast Club". Rebecca is how I feel before you get to know me. After we know each other, I feel like Becky.
Becky, like Becca, is cool and sometimes beautiful, but also dorky and disheveled. Becky cannot assemble a tent solo. In fact, I'm not good at even "helping" someone else put up a tent. It's best if I step away so the poles don't get bent or the waterproof cover doesn't get torn when I trip over my own Keens and fall into the tent construction site.
Becky is never prepared with anything. Some days I'm so distracted by writing and caring for Katie and endless lists of things to do that I get to work and realize I haven't had a chance to eat all day. And in all that time at home did I remember to pack a lunch? Of course not. Becca would have remembered.
I, like Becca, give all my money away but not in a charitable way. More like in a debtors' way. And despite how much I claim to despise money, I worry about not having enough of it to pay the bills. Too much of my time is spent worrying over it. I know life is short, but I forget that fact when I'm overcome with emotion about whatever trivial thing I get all worked up about. I usually know the right thing to do only after the occasion to use such knowledge has passed and I'm running the scene over and over in my head.
I'm just not at-ease enough to be a Becca.
Yet. But maybe...
Becca is the kind of woman who likes to dance and she doesn't give a flying fig what you think of her while she's moving her body. I moved a step closer to calling myself Becca last night while I danced for four hours at the Phish show.
I've complained before about my ex-girlfriend Kristin, the one who made fun of the way I danced. And the way I decorated my apartment. And the way I cut my hair. And the clothes I wore. Ok, now I see that perhaps her pattern of trying to change me into someone else was a sign I should have noticed so I could have broken up with her even sooner. Live and learn. Write and see.
Much in my life changed when I finally booted Kristin out and started living my own life again. I'm happily married to a laid back guy who loves me the way I am. I'm free to decorate our house with odd objects and art. My favorite thing now is the carved wooden head my brother Pat pulled out of someone's trash and I got at a Christmas gift exchange. Kristin would not approve.
The thing Kristin would disapprove of that I'm most proud of reclaiming is dancing. Last night on the way to the show Will was excited to finally get to take me to see one of his favorite live bands. We arrived at the parking lot, saw that the police were cool, cracked open our beers (Modus Hoperandi, niiiiiice), and strolled around Shakedown Street for an hour or two before the show started. I felt completely comfortable and welcome.
Once inside we found our seats. We were not in them long. The band played for four hours, with one intermission. Will and I and everyone around us danced the whole time. It was amazing. Freeing. Goofy. Happy. Fun.
I totally GET Phish now. The energy of the crowd. The live and let live attitudes all around. I have never seen so many smiling faces in my life. I felt like I could just be me. Rebecca, Becky, Beck, Becca. It doesn't really matter when you learn to just be.