I don’t want to be her anymore

4 Oct


The other day I was unpacking and in my stack of paperwork that I had gathered the night I left Boston, I found my blank passport application. I picked it up two months ago when Jake and I settled on Tokyo for our honeymoon, after many tears and much debate. I had wanted something exotic and relaxing, like Tahiti, but he wanted something more interesting. I finally gave in, since I’d never been out of the country and apparently didn’t really understand what kind of experience I wanted.

I started to fill out the application. Name: Dzsenifer Gabor. I stopped as I wrote it. My whole life I’ve had to explain my name – on the first day of school, to substitute teachers, to co-workers, to hard-asses at the airport.

“It’s Jennifer,” I would sigh, and most of them would frown at me in confusion.

“My grandmother was from Hungary and Jennifer in Hungarian is Dzsenifer,” I’d rattle off robotically.

My parents named me after my grandmother and, because they are purists, legally kept it as the Hungarian spelling. Of all the stories I tell people about myself, this comes up the most often. I hate that some extra consonants are what others see as the most interesting thing about me.

As an 8-year-old, all I wanted was to be normal, like everyone else, and my name drew uncomfortable attention when I least wanted it. Later, when Jake found out that I wasn’t just Jennifer, I was Dzsenifer, he insisted on pronouncing it in Hungarian. How he knew that, I don’t know, but he kept it up the entire time we were together. After months of my insisting, he finally settled on calling me Dee; he refused to call me J., since that was the American spelling. It didn’t matter what I wanted. What mattered was that he believed he was right.

I looked back down at my application. Name: Dzsenifer Gabor.

I want to not be Dzsenifer anymore.


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