Tag Archives: names

I’ve Adopted an Alias

10 Oct


I have a secret.

I’ve adopted an alias.

It’s what every International Woman of Mystery needs, no? The assumed identity. The also known as. The chosen moniker that allows one to transform. To step outside oneself. Beyonce has Sasha Fierce when she steps on stage. Norma Jean dyed her hair blonde and became Marilyn Monroe. Lula Mae: disappeared from her humble Texas beginnings and re-emerged in New York City as one Ms. Holly Golightly.

These are all women who changed their names and became stronger, more sophisticated, more dazzling versions of themselves. Anybody could do that, you know? It’s the pen name that frees the authoress. So that she can be free to say whatever she wants. It’s the Starbucks name that you use on the other side of town, because you can. Because the barista will just call out whatever name is written on the cup and no one will be any the wiser. And then, in that moment – however small and brief – you are allowed to be anybody. Anything that you want.

In some ways, all this – this new life in Denver – is kind of like that moment. Only bigger.

It started as a bit of a protective measure. When he broke up with me, when I left Boston, I didn’t want anyone to know me anymore. I changed my number. Didn’t tell a soul where I was going. I didn’t want anyone to know, but especially not him. Why should he get to know where I am now? It may seem a bit extreme, but it felt necessary. It also just felt pretty damn good. And so I kept going. Cashed out the savings and closed the account. Changed every login name and password for anything that could be used to track me, in case he bothered to look.

At least for the time being, I do not desire to be found. Removed myself from social media. The Facebook account with all the smiling pictures of us? All his awful friends who added me as courtesy but then never cared to know me? What business is it of anyone’s who I am or what I do with my life from here on out? Deleted. Gone. All gone.

I thought it would feel sad or strange. But actually, it was exhilarating. Empowering even.

When you leave, like I did. When your life is screaming at you. When you escape. Blindly. Stumbling. Numb. Suddenly. In a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-skirt kind of way. With only a handful of your things in a couple of suitcases. Without destination. Without a plan. Without answers. Well. When you leave like that, you don’t look back. It isn’t an option. You can only look forward. You can only keep running.

When I bought that ticket, when I stepped on that plane, I felt something I had never felt before. I can’t be sure what it was or what it meant. I only know that I shed my skin somewhere over the Midwest. In that moment, I became someone else. And I think that someone deserves a name of her own.

I call her Jenny G.


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.