Monday, February 04, 2008

What's in a name?

My real name is Xenia. It's the X in xyz, which are my real initials, by the way. My mother is very creative. I thank her for such a unique name. It's saved me quite a few times. My mother's favorite story is when I was interviewed for Kindergarden, the principal asked me my name and I mentioned that my inintials are xyz. He told us that I would be accepted in the school but come the first day, we could not find my name. We went back to the principal and yes, he remembers xyz. So in school, I was always known as Xenia. From Kindergarden to High School.

But at home, I'm referred to as Cheng. This is the name I grew up with. It's Xenia mispronounced. It was I who mispronounced it as a little kid. Why my family let me rename myself, I don't know. (I must have been 2 years old. I had no business renaming anything, let alone, myself.) But it stuck. If you call me Cheng, I know that you've known me since I was a kid or you were introduced to me by someone who did.

Cheng is actually short for Cheng-Cheng. I used to sign notes to my friends as Cheng2 (Cheng squared). I was REALLY little when I named myself that. I have no other defense. But it's common back home to have a name that repeats. A cousin of mine got married and the maid of honor and brides maids were (nick)named: Au-au, Cheng-Cheng, Deng-Deng and Tel-Tel. The bride didn't have a repeating nickname but her husband does --> Jojo.

Then in college, I decided to rename myself once again. I thought that Xenia was a little too adult and stuck up. Plus, it was a name that was difficult to recall. Cheng was out of the question. I wanted to be known as XYZ. You can't really pronounce XYZ. It's 3 of the weirdest letters put together. So I started to introduce myself as XY (2 letters called out). Then I signed everything XYZ. I thought that it would be cool to have such an unforgettable name. Actually, not so much. Everyone remembered my name. And I forgot all of theirs.

I met my husband in college. So he knew me as XY. When he introduced me to some of his friends, he was mis-heard and thought that I was his "ex-wife".

Another friend of mine commented that XY sounds too much like a screen name for a porn star.

Now, it's back to Xenia as my formal name. That's how I'm known at work. Then Cheng for the house/family.

I think I've grown into Xenia. It's a Greek name meaning hospitable. (Yes, I have boundary issues which I'm working on.) It's also very unique. I've decided that I like being unique.

I rag on Cheng as my name. But despite it's humble origins (straight from a babe's mouth), it's a huge part of who I am. Cheng calls to my inner child. Maybe that's why in so many ways I have not grown up. Yes, I still watch cartoons. I don't even mind watching kid shows with my daughter now. We're stuck on the Disney Channel. Funny thing is that I put that on even when my daughter is not around.

I conciously try to keep child-like wonder in my life. People say I'm always happy and excited. Well, I appreciate the smallest things. And I try not to cling to objects or circumstances. Then change is easier to take since it's always new and exciting.

Cheng has actually morphed. I was renamed by my neice - Lyka (Formal name: Angelica). She - and the rest of my family (my brothers and their families) now call me TaTweng. That's taken from Tita (Aunt; Tia) Cheng. Mish-Mashed together. Cheng grew up into the silly aunt.

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