I found out sometime in my mid to late 20’s that my parents were between two names for me before my birth; Angelique and Jeanne. My visceral reaction was, “Why didn’t you call me Angelique, for God’s sake?” Instead, I got Jeanne, just Jeanne. I felt some serious disappointment in those first few weeks of thinking I could have been Angelique, torturing all my friends with ‘what if’. What a special creature I might have been. When the name rolled off my tongue it seemed so much more sexy and exotic compared to Jeanne. I could be called ‘Angel’ and it would be such a little lie. I could feel a shimmer of naughtiness in the thought of it. What kind of Angel would I be?
‘Angie’ would never happen. That was a derivative of Angelique that held my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I was Not to be called Angie and then I thought, I wasn’t, I was called Jeanne. And I did prefer to be called Jeannie.
Names are powerful. They have an energy to them, a sensation when we say them out loud; A rhythm, a pulse, a feel of right or not. There might be an imagining about this person’s name that we don’t think too much of when we first meet them, because we’re busy in the introductions and the visuals. If we like them or don’t, we might be more inclined to remember their name, repeating it with a visual of their face, or something particular to them we noticed. It might not make or break the liking of them because of their name, and some names are haunting even in their simplicity.
I imagined what kind of person I might have been had I been Angel. I would have been different. My essence would be the same. And I would have had some attitude that comes with a name like that: suspiciously sweet, inherently sexy, surprisingly not innocent. Jeanne is plain, androgynous, a name that feels safe, and holds no suspicion, it is sexless and could be boring. I’m not boring. I did have my sexy years.
Being Angel could have been a blasphemy to the heavens. Some days I would have held pride to that, and others I would have felt terribly wrong and darkly deceptive. I would have felt undeserving of a name that holds so much weight and implication relative to angelic goodness and light. I wasn’t going to nor will I now, join that ‘fallen angel’s’ status of Satan. I’m not a believer.
Nope, Jeanne, just Jeanne. That’s me.