“Are you by any chance related to so-and-so Yarbrough?”
I paused, typing something in on a work computer. I was logging into a program, or replying to an email… I don’t remember. I do remember instantly feeling sick to my stomach.
“You know, I’m not… I’m not actually a Yarbrough; I married into the clan, and we’re divorced now, so…” I said this lightheartedly, comically, with a smile. As if I’m not still heartbroken over the thing.
“Oh! Okay…” And then the person felt bad, and I didn’t want them to feel bad, and I didn’t want to feel bad.
That was on Wednesday, and while reaching for a container of lavender and argon oil lotion yesterday morning, I randomly happened upon our old wedding rings. They were tucked into a corner of my little red bookcase. Funny timing, right?
I knew mine would still fit but didn’t want to wear it, so I slid his onto my left index finger, nestling it right underneath my beloved cow ring. I was sitting on my bed then, having just finished unplugging my diffuser and dressing myself for the day. I let myself cry for a quick minute and then reminded myself that it was time to go appear alright in front of the world.
I’ll miss Christopher forever and ever, and I know this. It is not a choice, or a phase, or a delusion (as much as I wish it was); I’ve simply lost my soulmate — and by lost, I mean I pushed him away so I could fall to pieces and then I missed him once I’d finished reassembling a better, healthier version of myself. But it was too late then, and there was too much there.
And it’s the strangest thing — to be so happy with and proud of who you’ve become while abhorring the means it took to get there. In short, in the process of finding myself, I completely blew it with him. Was it worth it? I just don’t have the heart to say it.
I’m certain that he thinks I’m crazy — the whole damn world probably thinks I’m crazy (objectively-speaking, I would too!) — and the only sane thing I can really do to redeem the who-knows-how-many days I’ve still gotta be here is to focus my attention and energy on the things I like and to love the people I do. I’ve lost Chris, Bob, and Bruce now… so I know better, way better, than to take anything or anyone for granted ever again. So I will write and strum and sing and hug with a latte in one hand and a burrito in the other until these breaths quit coming. I’ll visit rivers and pass peaches out and I’ll try really, really hard to recognize what’s real instead of dwelling on what I wish was real.
Are there people that you love, admire, or feel you couldn’t live happily without? Please tell them. Don’t wait until it’s too late, or until circumstances make it so that you can’t comfortably (or decently) tell them.
Anyways — I am getting to my actual point…
College is in full swing now, and this morning, I’ve been toggling between coffee and kombucha; joy and despair; espanol and creative writing… and while I was standing by the coffee counter just now, waiting for them to call my name, I was reading about names. Three lines from “The Soul of Place” (Lappin) that really stood out:
It is also believed that an individual ‘becomes’ his or her name over time, which suggests that names have the power to shape and mold character and destiny.
Names can also express a form of wish-fulfillment, for example, when we give a desert road a name evoking water or trees, or try to enhance the glamour of a modest town by naming it after some great cultural capital, hoping that a little of the original charisma will rub off.
Names allow us to differentiate and mark out what would otherwise be blank, undetermined, and unknowable space.
And that’s when I suddenly realized it, you guys: I’ve always loved Rose.
I know this because, when I first started working at Publix (back when I was 16), an older woman who also worked there was named Rose, and I remember feeling distinctly jealous that she got to be Rose while everyone else called me by my first name (which I never liked): Amber.
And before that, during my public school days, the same feeling of disappointment would manifest in my gut when, on the first day of class, the teacher would call out “Amber Roderick?” instead of “Rose Roderick?” Present, I’d say, feeling like no one was ever really going to “get me” with a name like Amber. But Amber was my first name, and Rose was my second. I guess it made sense.
And when I dropped Amber Rose entirely three years ago — so I could start making myself from scratch, like a biscuit, by borrowing the name of a literary character whose selflessness and bravery deeply inspired me — I missed Rose. I missed her like a whisper, like an exhale. But at the time, I felt I had to let her go, because I didn’t want people to have the choice to remember her at all. I didn’t want a precedent for myself — nothing in concrete, nothing to be used for comparisons. I wanted to be free to go, or let go; to change as drastically or as slowly as I needed to… does that make sense?
When the identity crisis bloomed, it sort of felt like, just like I didn’t belong in dresses, a name like Rose was beautiful but wasn’t right for me. Like I didn’t deserve it. But I worked through all of that (wiggles fingers) and am wearing a super cute pink-and-yellow dress today (think: roses and sunshine). It looks very nice.
And when I read what I did (now 30ish minutes ago — sorting my thoughts out is taking a while), it struck me in the best kind of way: I can be, and have, both: the best beginning and the best ending — just a first and a last. The middle was always the part I didn’t want or need. It was the element that confused things; it contained what I wanted, but it wasn’t placed properly.
And this week, by a REALLY strange alignment of circumstances (it would be too hard to explain and it would bore you), I have the opportunity to legally change my name (again), and you know what, people who likely think I’m a $0.99 bag of pistachios (aka nuts)? This is the last frickin’ time. If I EVER get married again, dude’s going to have to change his name. Or we can both just love each other while staying ourselves.
The girl who’s tending to her 35 indoor houseplants, trying so hard to be kind and brave always, and still growing into herself…
Jace Rose (aka Aun Aqui)