Pick Me Up #SOL21 8/31

A few days ago, Terje wrote a slice about her name. And then Elisabeth followed suit. And in her book Being the Change, Sarah K. Ahmed suggests having students write the story of their name as an identity activity. AND I’ve been working with my own students on how our identity affects our interpretation of information. So how could I resist? It’s time for a name story.

My name is Amanda. When I was little, it was an unusual name. In fact, I have a fill-in-the-blank journal from 4th grade where I wrote that my name was “old fashioned.” During the middle school name-sticker phase, I had no name stickers. A nurse named Amanda who worked with my father once bought me stickers because she, too, was excited to see our name in a store. (Amanda tchochkes abound these days; the generation behind me has no idea how we older Amandas suffered.)

I liked Amanda – though everyone called me Mandy and I like that, too. It was just unusual enough to be mine, but it was still easy to say. And it was certainly better than another choice that lurked in my baby book: Jemima. I used to imagine a whole different life for Jemima-me. I assure you that she wasn’t not doing nearly as well in life as I was. In college, Amanda was written on the door of my freshman dorm & Amanda I became. These days, I go by both.

But that’s not the story.

During my junior year abroad, my friends and I traveled over Spring Break. We left France and headed to Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. We were four young women: a tall redhead, a willowy brunette, a blue-eyed blonde and a curly-haired brunette. I’ve seen the pictures; we caught the eye. We can (and will) tell story after story from that trip. For example, in Prague,we followed our guidebook’s dubious suggestion and “found” a room offered by someone who met the train at the quai. We ended up staying in an apartment owned by a fast-talking British (?) guy who decided to go ahead and stay the night with us. (I know, I know. It’s a miracle any child of the 70s or 80s survived.)

We settled in, drank some cheap Russian champagne, and then happily agreed to go dancing with our new friend. Once we arrived at the club, he quickly found friends for each of us to chat with, while he stayed with the willowy brunette. I had a boyfriend in France, thus making me harder to match, but he managed: I soon found myself deep in conversation with an incredibly handsome Swedish man named Torin. He was in Prague to collect art. He spoke French, English and heaven only knows what else. Our conversation ranged from books to art to travel. Soon, he asked me to dance, and there I was, at a club in Prague, dancing with a gorgeous Swedish intellectual who leaned over to me and said, “Amanda. Such a name. Do you know what it means?”

I did. I do. But I still let him tell me.

“Amanda, worthy of love.”

I mean, who derives the Latin root of a name as a pick up line? I was very nearly swept off my feet. But not quite. As he leaned in to kiss me – of course he would, after that little gem – I turned my head. “I still have a boyfriend.” He smiled ruefully, “and your constancy makes it harder to let you go.” (I’m not even kidding – he talked like that.) We danced and talked all evening. We did not exchange information and this was long before the internet. One night was one night.

My French boyfriend, wonderful though he was, did not collect art or speak multiple languages. He had no idea what my name meant in Latin. He was, nevertheless, my first love. We stayed together for a while, and then we broke up. I’ve never been back to Prague, and no one else has ever tried to pick me up with such an urbane pick up line. Sometimes, I still think about Torin and Prague and that carefree trip. After all, while I’m now a middle-aged wife (Honey), mother (Mama or Mom), and teacher (Miss), I remain Amanda, worthy of love.

With gratitude to twowritingteachers.org who host this challenge annually

30 thoughts on “Pick Me Up #SOL21 8/31

  1. Oh I must do this. I love your story about Prague. Such a romantic time in your life. But now you are Mommy and Miss. important names!

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  2. This is such a romantic story. ❤️❤️Of course you are “worthy of love” and what a way to be reminded. So glad this story unfolded as it did. What an adventure that trip must have been. I haven’t been to Budapest, but those other cities are gorgeous and romantic. Ah, to be you g again and globetrotting the globe.

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  3. Such naughty memories! Such carefree days! Loved reading your excellently-written slice! So well-told, humor and commonsense so well meshed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. UMMM, I remember a certain gentleman that made you faint when he walked you home for the first time. And it has lasted a LOT longer than one night:-) Love reading your writing. It brings me to so many places in my head.

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  5. Your name story reminded me that as a little girl, Amanda by Boston was my favorite song. I wished my name was Amanda. I just went back to listen to the song. I love this little flashback in time.

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  6. What I appreciate most here is the unexpected on International Women’s Day. A woman declaring her worthiness is unexpected but much needed. Not only are you worthy of love, you are loved by many. I wonder if women should write a bit more about our collective worth.

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  7. Wow that took so many unexpected turns! I love doing name writing activities and your writing here is just so powerful with the various phases you went through with your name — something I wouldn’t have expected from a name like “Amanda.” I enjoyed the build up and was completely captivated by this read. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I love this story! If we’d known each other in high school I would have only known you as Mandy. I have mine pre-Internet one night story. I should write it down at some point. I actually got divorced from my first husband in part because I received a letter from my university letting me know I was eligible for a year abroad scholarship. If it want for him I’d have gone, and I knew he’d never go with me. It was a huge realization!!

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    1. All I have to say is thank goodness we grew up pre-internet!! I’d gladly miss a thousand almost kisses with handsome Swedes just to be able to grow up without the internet.

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  9. For the record, “But that’s not the story” is a killer transition.

    Got me thinking, too, about what might be the story of my name? This could be as far as it goes: how people who type often transpose the vowels in my first name and address me (usually via email) as the stuff inside our skulls.

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  10. I love “One night was one night”. Ain’t that the truth? I have so many stories of the possibility of things before the internet. The mystery of what could have been made life seem so much better then. Haha. I really love name stories. I told my “Deirdre of the Sorrows” one once upon a time. That one involved an Irish boy. 🙂 I really want to know where Torin is now…

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  11. So glad I made it to the party; fashionably late but still! Love the Central European pick up line story. So cool to learn more about you by hearing about your name. I may be tempted to give this a whirl soon. 🙂

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