The daily prompt asks us to: Write about your first name. Then it asks us these questions (it’s almost like an interview!): Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself? Well, I did write about my first name and how I came about it here, but I’ll write about it again because why not? I’ve got some free time.
I’ll answer the last question first. I totally renamed myself. Legally and everything (and it was easier than I thought it would be). The name Willow isn’t the name I was born with. Nope. I came up with that name a few years back when I was looking for a new name to use online because of my psycho ex. I wanted to keep in touch with family and friends, but didn’t want him to know where I was, so adopting a pseudonym seemed the best way to go about it. I was attending college in a little po-dunk town in Mississippi where I knew he’d never find me and felt safe with a closed, private Facebook account, but not safe enough to put it in my name. Anyway, after staying up all night studying, I kept mistyping the word “within” with a /g/ at the end (I just did it again… ha!) and I wondered if that was an actual word even though my spell checker clearly said it wasn’t. So I went online to the Oxford English Dictionary — I truly miss having full and complete access to the OED — and looked it up.
Yep, it is a word… well, it was a word in and of itself. It used to mean “a willow branch” or “willowy” or something like that (it’s been awhile and I don’t have access to the OED anymore). If you look it up in modern dictionaries, it’s not a word in and of itself, bu the verb form of the word withe which means willow. So really the meaning hasn’t changed much except in today’s vernacular, “withing” means “to bind with willows” instead of being the noun willow. Ha! But I thought that Willow would be a cool name. And since I was looking for a name completely and totally unlike my birth name, I took Willow as my new name.
As an aside, it’s a very common mistake for people who go into hiding to make… to take on a name that’s similar to their own. They chose one that’s either one letter off, or that sounds similar, or the same name that’s spelled differently. For example say Marie goes into hiding, the common mistake is to chose names like Mary, Maria, or Mari instead of choosing something completely unlike Marie altogether. Like, maybe, Della or Georgia. It makes them very easy to find again. When I first planned my bug-out before I really needed it, I had a name in mind, but soon realized it was too similar to my birth name, which is why I was looking for a new one in the first place. /aside
So back to the questions… The name I have isn’t my birth name. I’m named for a word that I liked because I like language and especially Old English, even though when I looked it up I though the etymology was Old Scots, which is why my last name is Scott. Hey, whaddya want? It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I was punch drunk from studying forever. Maybe not the best time in the world to be picking out a new name, but I think it worked out fairly well this time. ^_^ I think it helped that the Willow tree is one of my favorite trees in the world. Right up there with the Eucalyptus and the Oak tree. That and “Willow” sounds like a hippy name, and I am nothing if not an old hippy at heart. I never felt comfortable with my birth name. It never felt like it fit me. Like, ever. I don’t even know where that name came from. There’s no one in my family by that name. My mom never liked it either. She claims I was named after my dad, but he says that’s wrong. But they hate each other, so I can’t really trust what they say. But seriously, it’s not that I hated the name, it served its purpose. I just felt that like when you pictured someone of that name, my face wasn’t one that popped up. When I changed my name, people who knew me nodded and said, “Yeah, you look like a Willow.” And I knew I’d chosen right.
Now the only time I hear my birth name is when one of my family members calls me. I mean who can blame them? I was that name for decades and they haven’t really known me as “Willow” for very long comparatively. So yeah, I’m down with them using my birth name until they get used to Willow.