Monday, September 28, 2020

My Name

As a child I assumed that my name was unique, referring only to me. The idea that another person could have the same name had never occurred to me.

Then one day, while reading a magazine, I saw my name on the printed page, as the signer of a letter. "Sandy Nichols" had written a letter from Wyoming. How could that be possible?  I recall that she was my age, and pictured with a horse. I've forgotten which magazine (probably either American Girl, or Seventeen), but I've never forgotten the surprise of that discovery. 

Another discovery came during a formal event in Salem sometime later. I'd been invited to a dinner and dance at Hamilton Hall, a new experience for me. The dinner tables were set with fancy silverware and glassware, and little names cards to designate where each person was to sit. As I looked for my name and the name of the young man who had invited me, I was shocked to find "Sandy Nichols" at the HEAD of one of the big tables. Oops!  That can't be me! And it wasn't. A man with the nickname "Sandy" was the intended person for the prominent seat at the head of the table.  Phew! I was relieved to find my real seat elsewhere beside my date. We laughed about the name confusion.

Yesterday, in the Death Notices section of our local newspaper, I spotted my name again. Right at the top was a Sandra Nichols, referred to as "Sandy." She was younger, with a different birth name; Nichols was her married name. Still, it was jolt to recognize my birth name among the obituaries.

Today, searching on social media, I've found other examples, of course. One young woman seems to share many of my interests. Maybe I'll send her a note.  Or, perhaps it is best to leave her alone. She might still believe her own name is unique, and I wouldn't want to spoil that.

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