WHAT’S IN A NAME

Dear Reader,

I think about names a lot. I have lists of names for my future children as well as potential characters in books I’m writing. Of course, sometimes you meet someone and they ruin or just completely use up a good name for you (God damn it Liam).

And then with your own kids, naming them isn’t necessarily going to be up solely to you. So even though I’ve always seen myself with a daughter named Danny and a son named Lewis, I’m sure I’ll have to consult my husband with these choices. Besides, I’m not even sure what last names my kids will have, and that certainly makes a different.

Still, I love names. I love thinking about names and origin stories of names and coming up with names for things. My first car was named Carlos (I thought it was a funny pun) and my car now is Veronica. I also entirely plan on having a dog named Benevolio one day (we’ll call him Bene). Even my first cello was named Jo.

Even more interesting I find is the names we assign to ourselves and our friends. My name, for example, is Samantha, but only two people regularly call me that. Still, this fits them more than it fits me and I can’t imagine them calling me anything different. The same goes for those who call me Sam vs. Sammy. What people call others, I find, says much more about them than we realize.

(Another anecdote: we had a worker at our coffee place on campus who wasn’t particularly popular with the others. One girl in particular thought he was obnoxious so instead of calling him Ryan, she always referred to him as Brian. It was just subtle enough, but still speaks words for how she sees him.)

This is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, probably because I notice when people call me Samantha vs. Sammy vs. Sam (vs. other fun nicknames like Damn Sam or Sammy the Snake or Sammy the Slacker–thanks Mrs. Fry).

Last names are also great because you can so often tell so much from them. My last name is clearly German and the story that goes along with it is one of my favorites (basically that it was super German but was changed when my Grandpa was living in the US during World War II because yikes).

I also love being called a Neiswander (pronounced Nice-wander) and the connotation we’ve attributed to it. I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I’ll keep it when I’m married (we’ll just have to see how cool my future husband’s last name is) and I’ve been thinking of getting a wander tattoo so I can at least keep part of it. Because, let’s be honest, Neiswander probably won’t be the best to hyphenate with and I surely won’t pass it down as a middle name.

Final thought: Does anyone else love the name Theodosia? I don’t know if it’s because of the song from Hamilton or the meaning behind the name, but I absolutely love that name and would gladly name my future adopted daughter Theodosia (maybe even call her Teddy), but every time I mention this to people I get shat on. Can anyone relate?

I don’t know. Maybe I can find a way to fit it in as my future daughter’s middle name.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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