What's in a name?

I remember,

Age four or five,

Hiding behind a pillar with a grin,

An adult playfully asking my name.

My face splitting with a grin,

“Anna Uitvlucht.”

Uitvlucht.

Rolling of Oma’s tongue,

Dad’s toothy smile,

Tante Pam’s boisterous laugh,

Spats with Aidan,

Phrases in Dutch Opa mutters,

Mom’s loving eyes.

Uitvlucht,

Made my heart swell with warmth.

Like lying in the sun on a hot Virginia day,

It surrounded me,

Embraced me and made me a we.

Uitvlucht was,

Belonging,

Contentment,

Pride,

It was the goddamn sun.

Then I grew up.

It’s ‘weird’,

‘how…unique,’

‘that’s too hard,’

‘you’re kidding,’ ‘that sucks’.

 ‘Just call me Anna U,’

I would whisper to my desk,

As kids snickered,

As if my name,

Was an inside joke.

I wasn’t Anna Uitvlucht anymore,

I was Anna U with the ‘odd’ last name.

 

Shame consumed me for so long,

Shame I never wanted.

But then,

I began to listen.

 

My name carries a story,

Not just mine,

But the story of a family.

A family who has fought just as hard as anyone else for the right to be here,

To be respected.

Two teenagers survived World War II.

A boy who hid from enlistment,

In an occupied Holland,

Imagining sheets of beautiful music to play.

A girl supporting a family,

Riding a bike for miles to get food,

A song in her heart.

The war ended.

They fell in love on a train.

A kind woman accepted a musician’s heart,

Uitvlucht.

They took a boat to Canada,

A new life.

Uitvlucht.

A son and a daughter soon followed,

Joining the world with a defiant wail.

Uitvlucht.

Soon they were in America,

Him performing with the Richmond Symphony,

Her raising two kids,

singing in a choir.

It was hard sometimes,

But they were happy.

They achieved this,

The Uitvluchts.

 

Every name has a story,

Happy, sad, tragic,

There is emotion behind that name.

My name is my little family

Those pitying looks,

Laughter,

Jokes,

Those are ways of trying to take my name from me.

But I am older,

I know where I come from,

Uitvlucht is my red string of fate,

It will always guide me home,

And you can’t take that away from me.

 

Your name is worth as much as you want it to be.

So, what’s in a name?

This poem is about: 
Me
My family

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