The Day I Learned My Name
It was my first day of kindergarten. My mother bought me a black and white polka-dot dress – a Sunday best. The cheap tulle rubbed against my legs, and a droopy sunflower was pinned on my left shoulder, too heavy for the thin fabric to hold. The fenced playground was crowded with mothers, fathers, and children that looked so much like me.
Before the first day of school, I was daddy and mommy’s little girl; their only child. My father would take me on trips across the country, and my mother would have me help her fill-out thousands of forms. On days when I was not taking trips with my dad or filling out forms, my days were filled with mutilating Barbie dolls, and teddy bears. It was never intentional; I just wanted them to look better. I would also help my father shop for groceries and help him pick out the best cookies, and dance to the music by La Sonora Dinamita that played at the Happy Burro Mini Market.
There were other days when I would help my aunt and her husband pick berries in the fields. I would be rewarded by moments of liberation, and I would get to hang out with the older kids. “Cinderella, mi Cinderella,” my aunt would call. At that time I did not know about feminist theory, or the fact that the original story was intense. I just knew that I loved being spoiled, and according to me Cinderella was a spoiled princess because I was a spoiled child. I was not confused when people called me Cinderella because I knew that my name is Cindy, and that Cinderella meant that people wanted to continue to spoil me, and I was okay with that.
My mother held my hand, and I was prepared to handle school. I had already met two familiar faces, Jose and Junior. They were the boys that lived across the street from me. They would play football in the front yard. However, I did not want to get my dress dirty, so instead I would help the babysitter cook by eating bits of celery, baby carrots and tasting a little of everything that she made. My mother and I reached a table with nametags scattered in different colors. I noticed that people had them pinned on their chest. I wanted the pink tag, that read Ruben Lopez. As my mother pinned an icky green tag next to my droopy flower I watched Ruben’s father yell at a fat woman, and in his broken English explain that his son is not a maricon. The woman replaced the tag color for this Ruben.
“I want the pink one!” I yell from across the playground.
The fat woman has a warm and pretty smile that makes me feel fuzzy and good. That pink tag is mine. She reaches down and says, “Hi Cynthia.”
I look around me, to see who Cynthia is, but she keeps looking at me.
“Mom, who’s Cynthia?”
“You’re Cynthia, sweetie.”
“No, I’m Cindy.”
My mother walked up to the woman and let her know that my name is Cindy. Throughout the year I would hear the name Cynthia and Cindy intertwine, and I became more and more quiet as the name Cynthia became another part of me. However there were those few that truly knew me as Cindy, they knew me as me. Regardless, that day everyone learned that my name was Cindy and I learned that my name was Cynthia, and so my soul began to split so that Cynthia and Cindy could journey into the same world at once, and have completely different views.