Thursday, February 7, 2008

Who am I?

Yeah, who am I?

I wish I could say I was asking this in some sort of profound metaphysical way, but the truth is I'm having a hard time deciding who I am. As in what my name is. Is it Cathy or Catherine? For those of you with simple names that do not lend themselves to nicknames, pardon this foray into nonsense. For the rest of us, those of us who could be called Cat or Cath or even Kate, or Cath or Cathi or Cathie, who the heck are we?

My parents gave me my name, of course, and astonishingly no one shortened Catherine Louise to Cathy Lou until I shared my middle name with a new friend a few years ago. (Thanks, Kath....yes, I call her Kath. She goes by Katherine and even Q, but that's another story.) My parents also gave me my first nicknames, Dolly and Cherby. Neither of those took (thank God) but Cathy, the classic shortened version that I shared with three kindergarten classmates in 1971, stuck. So like it or not, I was stuck, too.

Stuck, that is, between Cathy and Catherine. I never thought much about it when I was younger. Cathy seemed just fine. I grew up in the 70's and 80's, not an era in which young girls reinvented themselves by devising creative new names. (At least not in my neighborhood.) I was used to being called Cathy, and even when I ventured off to college (ok, drove across town to an urban commuter campus) it didn't seem necessary to adopt a more mature label. But now, I'm a forty-something mom with six children. I'm launching a writing career a (my first book was published in September) and I'm trying to establish myself as an inspirational speaker. Who does those kinds of things? Is Cathy capable? Or is it time to call on Catherine?

Truth be told, I like my name (both variations. ) I don't go by Cathy because Catherine isn't appealing. I answer to it because my ears have grown accustomed, and I don't want to suddenly appear lofty to everyone who's gotten to know Cathy and liked her just fine, thank you. So what now?

I suppose I should've made the leap to Catherine when my book went to print. It would've been a great time to do it, as I was meeting new people and effectively starting anew as a writer. Catherine actually appears on the cover. But throughtout the story, which is an account of my youngest daughter's brief life, Cathy takes over. And the back cover is filled with praise for good ole Cathy, once again.

You'd think the subject matter of the book would be enough to help me reach the maturity of Catherine. It is a coming of age story in that my daughter's life and death chastened, humbled and transformed me. But when I type my name, I type Cathy. When I reach out my hand, I introduce Cathy. When I talk to myself, I say that old familiar name.

So today I set up this blog, and several blank white spots cried out for my identity. First I typed Catherine in every spot, but it didn't look right. So for now I'm Cathy. But you'll notice the nod to Catherine in my signature, sitting there all formal and proper waiting for me to grow up. I know she'll be there when I'm ready.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My family calls me "Alex". Always have. I started being called "Alexa" when I was about 36 - after my husband died. Rob has always called me, "Alexa" - as does his family...but I refer to myself as "Alex". Just always have.

I think I need both of us around - as, I guess is what you're saying too.