I feel awkward and uncomfortable calling by name friends and acquaintances who have the same first name, or nickname as my own. I don’t know why that is. Many years ago I was writing one such same-named person an emotionally filled out-pouring of thoughts and feelings. We were both experiencing difficult times in our lives for quite different reasons, but had become intimately familiar with the nature of each others individual issues. Responding to my letter she replied, “I hope you know you’re writing to yourself.”
She was an English professor whose teaching included conducting writing classes, so I thought she likely knew about writing in ways I did not. I was quite startled by her analysis since I never once realized this aspect in the words I wrote her. I couldn’t help wondering at the time if simply starting the letter with her name (“my name,”) coupled with the intimacy of our friendship, knowing each others families so well, had sent me off into this self-writing mode she perceived.
I always meant to talk with her about the whys, wherefores and significance of such writing. Later years when she visited from out of state there were much more current matters to share and that letter exchange had long since been forgotten. She unexpectedly died pre-maturely several years ago, though much younger than me, so that conversation will never take place.
Her full first name, quite different than mine, was used when we were first introduced. I didn’t know for some time that others called her by a shortened version of her name that was the same as “my name.” I tried using our shared short name a few times but uttering “my name” as though it was hers felt awkward, so I reverted to using her full first name as I always had. She was the first person, friend, acquaintance or co-worker with whom I shared that common name until a few years ago.
Tonight I received an email from that new person/co-worker known by the informal shortened name close friends and associates use with me. She was part of our company before I joined them, so had seniority rights to continue being called by that name – “my name.” I was designated to be called by my more formal full length name that is generally used only by those with whom I don’t have such a close personal relationship. Even after all these years, my full name used in this company situation continues to sound strange to my ears when they address me, considering I know these individuals so well.
As unusual as this may sound, I somehow don’t feel quite as close to these people when they speak my name. Consciously, unintentionally, they just seem to be a bit more distant to me on some level. I doubt that they feel that way, and I don’t understand why I am so subtly aware of this perceptual difference within myself -- just seems to be that way.
Interesting what slight insignificant events can trigger other memories such as this one.
Maybe such a subtle name reaction is unique to me, but I wonder if others are ever aware of perceiving feelings such as this, or what they do sense when addressing another person sharing their same first name?