Hello, My Name Is…
I go by several names these days. If you call me:
1. Katie: You’ve known me for a very, very long time or you met me through a family member.
2. Kae: You met me sometime in middle school or high school.
3. Kathryn/Kat: You met me during college/when I started working.
4. The Letter Kae: You’ve “met” me on the internet sometime within the past eight years or so.
5. Kathy: You don’t know me at all.
6. Irene: You’re my mother, who cannot remember the name of her only child.
My mom started getting my name and her younger sister’s name mixed up shortly after her husband passed away (my aunt’s husband, not my dad). She’d say “Irene” when she meant me, and she’d call for “Katie” while trying to get my aunt’s attention. No one can figure out why this happened, but it’s been like this for over twenty years.
It wasn’t so bad in the beginning. My aunt and I would be at family functions and my mom would mistake one for the other. Then she began to call my aunt “Katie” over the phone. A couple of years later, she’d call me “Irene” while we were on vacation – just the two of us(!).
It’s now progressed to the point where my mom’s admitted to having to keep telling herself who she’s talking to when she’s on the phone with my aunt. “I’m talking to Irene, I’m talking to Irene,” is her mantra. As far as I know, it’s working.
We had dinner with cousins from Tokyo this evening. The entire immediate family was there, which meant my aunt and I were in the same room. During a conversation lull, I decided to ask a burning question:
“Hey, mom…what’s my name?”
My mother opened her mouth, my name on the tip of her tongue. She shut it immediately after, and paused to think. She had to seriously think who was talking to her.
I used to joke for years that I should change my name to “Irene” to make it easier. However, in the final days of my twenties, I’m seriously considering it. Turning thirty seems like something significant should happen, and several people have told me that their thirties were the decade that brought on major life changes. While I thought that I’d do something drastic (become physically fit by LA standards, for example), my achievement may not be much more than going to court to fill out a request form.