Monday, September 2, 2013
The essay is about the author's attempt to contact everyone else in the US named Brian Doyle. Yes, this is very random thing to do since people with your name don't really have anything to do with you, right?
But the essay was really an interesting piece where he shares what the other Brians told them about themselves and their ancestry. And they did have a connection (some of them at least) due to the Irishness of the name, the circumstances of the immigration to the US, and the king some of the Brains were named after with intention. I had the feeling some of them were in fact very distant relatives, born of the same bloodline. But even without the ancestral connection, they were united and connected by virtue of their name in a way that didn't seem logical to me until I read the essay.
The natural reaction I had, of course, was to use the same site Brian Doyle used to see how many people shared my maiden name.
There's only one. Just me.
There are 157 million women in the US according to the Census Bureau. Of all of those women, not one of them was born with my name. That's kind of cool and also kind of freaks me out in a Twilight Zone kind of way. I hear Rod Serling's voice in the corner of my mind.
Southwest Virginia is full of people with my last name. There's even a town named after my maiden name. But none of them were named Tonja except for me. And I just learned this today.
I've been annoyed my whole life that my parents gave me a name I had to spell and pronounce for every single person (and without the gift of a middle name or the potential of a nickname other than 'T'). People often ask the origin of my first name. It's Russian. And, no, I do not have a drop of Russian blood in me. I have no explanation for the spelling but am often asked about it, mostly by strangers who seem to expect an interesting story. Maybe I should tell people my family are Russian Mafia...except that isn't exactly a conversation ender. And I usually want that conversation to end.
I get it. It's an odd name. It wasn't my idea.
The beauty of being a woman in the US is we do have the option of changing our names without much of a hassle. The first time I got married, I gave myself a middle name, which was very exciting since I had longed for one my whole life. So I middle-named myself. And I changed my last name to my first husband's very normal last name that doesn't require spelling (mostly) - you'd be surprised how many people can't spell normal, common names.
When I got remarried, I didn't change my name to my husband's Greek name that has an excess of vowels and syllables. I've often pondered how unique my name would be if I had changed it or ever decided to. But the fact is it's as unique as the name I was born with. By that I mean I would be the only one.
Apparently I'm inescapably unique and often require a bit of explanation. So be it.