Namesake

Half of what I say is meaningless
But I say it just to reach you, Julia.

Julia, Julia, oceanchild, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering
In the sun

Julia, Julia, morning moon, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind, Julia.

Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

Hum hum hum hum, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia, Julia, Julia.

“Julia” by The Beatles

The only significant thing that my father ever gave me is also the best thing that my father ever gave me: my name. (“My dad he gave me a name/Then he walked away” ~Father Of Mine by Everclear.) Instead of being the little miss of another female, I am a namesake of a song. That part doesn’t bother me. Sure, it’s a little weird, but also a little cool.

Of course, it took quite a long time for me to have any appreciation for my name at all. In fact, I used to hate it, back when that strong word had too much bearing in my head and heart, and got entirely too much usage vocally, as I threw it around recklessly, the damaged youth that I was…

What did bother me is that in spite of simply siring me but not being a real and constant presence in my life, my father put a permanence on me in being the one to have thought of what to name me. This was a double-fold situation, as I also despised my maiden name (and still do), and even if I had never found real love, (I did, though, thankfully) I might have gotten married just to escape it. I guess I should count my lucky stars I wasn’t born male — would I have had an opportunity to change my surname then? I suppose I would have had it legally changed anyhow. I can only creatively pontificate on what reasons I would have produced for doing so.

In spite of very directly asking my mother the short story behind my name, I never connected to also question directly if she had any girls’ names in mind and what they were. In any case, while pregnant and after finding out that they were having a girl, my mother asked my father about names. He must have been giving it some thought. Although, the surer bet is that she asked him while he was listening to The Beatles, with a possibility that “Julia” was playing from the vinyl recording setup in our dining room.

Julia is one of those names that seems to go through a resurgence every now and again. Plenty of women share my name, a few of them quite well known, whether deceased or living: Julia Child, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, et cetera. (Then there is a particular fictional Julia, of the film The Wedding Singer, whose creation made high school oh, so much harder to deal with! Thanks for that, writer of said motion picture!)

In the congregation of the last church that I belonged to — not only before heading off to college, but forever since — was a family that looking back I don’t believe I knew very well, but all the same seemed sweet, kind, and loving to each other, as well as to everyone else. My hazy memory swears they were the Timlins. The Timlin family had several children — maybe four — when along came another babe, a girl, whom they named Julia Rose. Rose after her grandmother. Julia after me? Seems arrogant to stand by that as truth, but I think the parents did like my name. Really though, they had probably heard it before, as it seems a good chance that they could have also been Beatles fans at one point or another.

Then there are times that if I threw a stone, I could easily hit another Julia with it. Like last weekend. At our local Wegman’s, our cashier was a Julia. When I pointed this out, it became clear that I cared about it more than she did. Whatever. Was she named after The Beatles track, as well? Probably not. Yes, that is pride you are reading. Because not all Julia’s are Beatles Julia’s.

For any one that doesn’t know, the story behind the song is tragic. John Lennon wrote it about his mother, Julia, who was killed in 1958 after being struck by a car when John was an adolescent. (Wikipedia has what I found to be a very interesting write-up confirming this, which includes further detail about his family. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_(The_Beatles_song). Even so, I find both the song and the reasons it exists very beautiful.

The love he carried to his own grave for his mother — who directly influenced his interest in music with her own —  is apparent when you listen to the track. Heck, I think it’s even quite palpable just reading over the lyrics! But I feel that the tune acquires a haunting quality once you know the inspiration behind its composition.

The Beatles weren’t the only ones to pen a song about some lovely named Julia. I am hyper aware of several because a few years back — when I realized I had stopped despising my name and had transitioned into beginning to like it — I went internet hunting. Two of the best that I had found were “Julia” by The Eurythmics (which still tickles me as I have huge respect and love for Annie Lennox) for the soundtrack to the motion picture 1984, which they did the whole of , and “Julia” by Pavlov’s Dog, a 1970s progressive rock band that, even though I am fairly eclectic at times with my musical tastes, I might not have ever learned of their existence otherwise.

I guess you could say that this is one of those instances where positive has been drawn out of something originating from a bitter place.

can only speak my mind.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Namesake

  1. Kat

    I’m a huge Beatles fan- John Lennon being my favorite. This song has always touched me deeply for many reason. Being familiar with the story behind the song, it moves me. Anything to do with a mother and child will do that to me. And I have a close personal connection to that name too.

    You used the perfect word- palpable. It describes the feeling perfectly.

    It’s a great name and anyone would be proud to have it. Especially if you happen to be named for the Beatles’ Julia! 🙂

    (My father chose my name from a washing machine????)

    • How funny, Kat — While I was in your blog, admiring your work, you were in mine leaving me a beautiful message that just made me smile as I read it.

      I also really love The Beatles. But for a long time, I couldn’t admit it to myself. After reading the post, you might understand why…I don’t know if I ever came out and said it anywhere in my blog yet (though I know I was thinking about writing something about it) but I have this tendency to link people to things, anything: music, shows, places. So, the Beatles were a source of negativity and pain for me because they only ever made me think of my father. Then, that feeling was piled on further when I had been friends with a woman named Karin for several years, who was/is a huge Beatles fan. Karin dropped me like the plague when she and her husband — a friend of mine and my husband’s — got divorced. She knew we were still friends with her ex and she couldn’t be bigger about it. So…just recently really I’ve been able to allow myself to enjoy the Beatles.

      I am the same way — anything that involves mother and child pulls hard at my heartstrings. Usually, it is the source of tears for me. But I’m a sensitive Sally anyhow.

      I felt pompous for showing pride in my name when I first wrote this. Then I thought, it’s my name and my blog. Any problems with that are not my own. Write your stories, right?

      Are you certain that your dad named you after a washing machine? No matter. Kat is a good name. I had a friend named Kat for awhile.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You seem to have enjoyed the post; if that is true, then I have done part of my job as a writer.

      • Kat

        I’m the same way- associating things with people or important events. I can totally understand your feelings about the Beatles. That must have been pretty difficult because Beatles music is everywhere!

        I have an entire post about my “mom” image- it’s been so much a part of who I am. About a year ago my kids told me something about me as a mom that I did not realize and it really touched me. I’m hoping to gather the anecdote up in my head and commit it to “paper” sometime soon.

        As far as writing about your name, hey, it is your blog, right? If someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read. I worry that if I focus on Kris too much it will turn people off so I try to put variety in my posts. I’m still searching for a format that feels right.

        As far as my name goes, Kat is my pen name. I explain it in one of my earlier posts. I need to protect Kris’s identity so that he can establish himself as Kris and not as that guy who used to be a girl. The truth of the matter is that the only thing that is not “real” are the names. Everything else is all us in all of our glory!

        I did enjoy reading your post. I liked your inclusion of the lyrics. That caught my attention right away. Thanks for sharing! I know it isn’t easy to share something that was a source of pain.

      • I’m so curious to read about what your children observed about you as a mom. If it touched you, it must have been good, heartwarming. Sounds like a solid evergreen post for a week when topics feel few. (You do have those, too, right?)

        Yes, essentially, I am writing for me, writing because I need to. But it’s also nice to have the tiny audience.

        As mothers, we already worry about our children — so much to teach them about and protect them from, if we can. I can see how Kris’s life causes further protectiveness.

        Ah, of course. A pen name. Not sure why I didn’t think of one of those. Obviously, I haven’t read through your blog yet. I want to. I’m going to.

        I look forward to when it doesn’t matter who we love, nor whether or not we once used to be a different version of ourselves. People forget to look at and treat other people as *people.* Kris is still what he always was — a person, with feelings, and all the other like that gets forgotten. Granted — because I’ve been thinking on this topic recently anyhow due to personal interest (trying to learn more about it after spotting some future-borrows at the library) — one common view that I think most people have straight out of human nature is this: i think we tend to wrap who a person is in with their gender. So, when a person changes their gender, I think it really messes with people.

        Anyhow, no harm in using other names, Kat. Which name you use for yourself or your family doesn’t matter. I can still tell that you’re the sort I’d like to get to know. Name doesn’t determine that. The person inside does.

        I actually was trying from the beginning to figure out what to do about protecting my loved ones identities, so for the most part, I leave names out, especially for my daughter and husband, whom I have never referred to by name in my blog.

        No, never easy to share a source of pain, but ironically, it is also one of the reasons why we write, why we are compelled to write.

      • Kat

        Yes, I do have those weeks when I’m stretching for topics. Lately things have been so crazy I haven’t had time to write.

        You’re correct. People like to have everything tied up in a neat little familiar package. The idea thar someone feels differently inside than they look on the outside is a difficult concept to grasp.

        At first I felt a little strange about the pen name but I quickly saw that the real “me” was coming through either way.

        I have noticed people using different tactics to protect their family’s identities. Besides using different names, some use a nickname or other reference like “my youngest” and then others just use the relationship- like my son…

        Thanks for replying! I enjoy talking to you!

      • I’m always looking for the “right” block of time to sit and write. (I know. Doesn’t exist.) Hardest to do with the kiddo up & awake. The hubby is even a distraction at times when it comes to this.

        Without having any personal experience with transgender life myself or through anyone I know, I completely get the feeling of difference inside versus the outside appearance. I actually have a hard time understanding why other people don’t get that. I mean, haven’t we all been through at least that to some degree?

        See, that’s all that matters I think — that the real you is still evident, no matter what name you use.

        I enjoy talking with you, too. 😀

      • Kat

        I wasn’t able to write much when my kids were younger. With three children in 5 years I didn’t have time. Even now I find it hard because I didn’t establish time to write or a routine with them where they know not to bother me. They feel that my office has an open door policy even when I try to shut the door for privacy. And I can’t tell them to leave me alone.

      • I could never put it that way to my daughter either (leave me alone), though she does seem to have some understanding that mommy is a writer, and sometimes needs to spend time on it. I certainly don’t have a routine either. I fantasize that as she gets older, and into her own life and interests, that I might have more time, thus ability to carve out an actual schedule. But that very well could be a pipe dream.

      • Kat

        I think it’s something you have to commit to and do it. My baby leaves for college this weekend. I’m hoping this is a natural time to transition to “respecting Mom’s writing time” but we’ll see, right? 🙂

      • Awww. Sounds like a bittersweet moment. Good luck in college, college baby! I’m so used to being with my daughter every day, being able to know exactly what is going on throughout the day, having the ability to protect her…when she starts school next year, I’ll be a mess. But I also think I’ll be a mess when she gets to college, too. I think every time we put them out into the world in a new way, it’s a brace-yourself situation.

        Commitment is definitely key. Sometimes though the week is such that I can’t honor my commitment as soon as I’d like. Luckily, I’ve gotten into the practice of writing in my head, a tip from a freelancer I once worked with.

        The experience of sending college baby off might organically bring forth a fountain of words. I’m cheering you on, college mom.

      • Kat

        Thanks! I’m in total-panic mode. I’m not sure how I’m going to leave him there.

        I remember those early days with my kids- all of those firsts. They were leading up to this day and I can’t believe it’s here!

        I find myself writing in my head A LOT! It’s the getting it into writing that I need to work on.

      • Both sides of my mind — the emotional and the logical can picture the situation. They oppose each other; the logical saying, be strong after that hug good-bye and get in your car, knowing you’ll talk with him later, see him later, big holidays later that he’ll be home with you. The emotional would cause my feet to be rooted to the spot, tears streaming down my face, probably with my kid feeling a tiny bit embarrassed — even if she was also feeling emotional — urging me to carry on with my day. I wish I could tell you that I would be able to be the strong version, but I know me, and I suspect that even with our time to send our daughter off to college years in the making, that I’ll still be that weepy mess. And I feel that as a mother with no experience yet with being separated from my child, I’ve no business telling you what to try to feel. The best I can come up with, as I think it will be helpful for me to hear it when its my turn, is to try to not think on that moment too much in the hours that remain. For me, that would only premeditate my emotions. Know that you’ve got my solidarity, though. And a hug. I get the feeling you need one.

        It amazes me (saddens me a little, too) to look back over all her firsts that are already in the past. Being on this side of things, all that time will ever constantly do for us is go extremely quickly.

        Yes, me too — Actual getting to the writing is the challenge. I realized this morning that the topic I was thinking on for this coming week was the wrong topic. I was ahead of my own drafts in WordPress. (When I can, I plan out a few weeks to attempt to make the process easier. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.)

      • Kat

        I will muster all my inner strength and do my best not to weep when I leave him there. 🙂

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