Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's in a name?

I only know a couple people here in portland...and only one that i really talk/hang/interact with on a daily basis... so most often the only other 'chatter' for this extravert has been found on npr.

national public radio.

I have been a listener for several years now, but since my days here are filled with lots of introvert time i find myself engaging in conversation with my new portland friends (terry gross (Fresh Air), neal conan (Talk of the Nation), and ira glass (This American Life) to name a few...

...oh and I search like a audible 'where's waldo' waiting for something to be reported by Lackshmi Singh because I love her name... almost about as much as I love CNN's London reporter Christiane_Amanpour)

This merge of reality and radio life has became even more evident when I recently had this conversation with Mary: "Were you the one telling me about that story about..."-me "No, that wasn't me..." -mary "Oh, wait that was NPR..."

I heard someone say the reason they began supporting NPR financially was for every time they began a conversation piece with "I heard on NPR that..."

I can relate...

Well, yesterday I was listening to the BBC radio on NPR and they had some Arabic folks giving their perspective on what's going on in Iran. There was a huge delay in translating the Arabic into English and I was really proud that I was able to identify some of the Arabic words. I don't think I was paying as much attention to what they were talking about as I was in trying to identify words they were saying.

One woman began to explain that 'adel' means justice in Arabic. Adel! That's my little brother's name. Justice- oohhh that's good. For whatever reason I had never heard that before. I just had to text Adel and let him know his true identity... there was something superhero-ish about this moment for me.

My brother, who got his minor in Arabic from Notre Dame, told me that he already knew his true identity... and informed me that my name meant 'night' which I too had already known.

It had me thinking about names...

Layla Tomomi Hanash

If you already knew my middle name consider yourself part of the lucky bunch... for years I lied about that capital letter 'T' that graced my student ID.

Girls in my private Catholic school just weren't named Tomomi, so when someone asked I claimed my baptism name Theresa and lied. I got exposed in the 8th grade when Sr. Elizabeth read my name at 8th grade graduation "Layla Tomomi Hanash". My friends glanced at this 'mistake' as i sheepishly shrugged.

Of all of the things I wish I could have done differently in junior high, it would have been that moment, at my 8th grade graduation, when all the shame i carried for being different caught up with me. I wish I could have punched shame in the face, in that moment, and walked down that isle with my fake 8th grade diploma with my head held high.

If only. 

But today- I do hold my head up high. I am proud and delighted of my parents choice. I still value my Baptism name, Theresa, but no longer think twice when someone asks "what's the T stand for? Tomomi... Layla Tomomi Hanash" Layla (Arabic) Tomomi (Japanese) is clearly a reflection of my parent's diverse cultures and they did that on purpose.

Layla, Arabic, Means Night or Dark Night 
Tomomi, Japanese, Means Friend Maker

The names were chosen carefully by each, as I was later to find out.

My father, fond of this popular Arabic name, picked it over other names like Renee and Hannah. Can you imagine me Hannah Hanash, yikes. For my dad, it was a process of elimination... saving the best for last.

My mom, who thinks very differently than my dad, expressed that she chose my name because she loved the idea of her daughter being able to have lots of friends.

My mom, who struggled with loneliness growing up in Japan, had hopes that her daughter would grow up to have a life full of friends and love... that she would never be lonely because she would be able to make good friends.... the friend maker.

So, that's me... the Night Friend Maker. It may not be as super hero-ish as "Justice"... and in Las Vegas may carry a different connotation, but it's my name and a part of my history.


Teri said...

You escaped some crazy alliteration not becoming Hannah Hanash. Although - perhaps that name would make a good correspondent for CNN.
Love the merge of reality and radio life. And love "Night Friend Maker."

We picked Joseph's middle name because it means "Friend to Everyone." I love that your mom picked Tomomi for her reasons and that she has shared those reasons.

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