On the day I was born, I was Christine Anne Kamys.
The last name, which is Polish, rhymes with famous.
Everyone back then just called me Chrissy.
And that, quite simply, was that.
Sure, sometimes people rebranded my name to Chris or Kris or Christy or Kristy.
Or CHRISTINE -- if it was really serious.
And everyone always butchered Kamys:
But I knew who I was.
I was Chrissy.
And I was
...the oldest daughter.
...the shortest kid in the class.
...the one who liked vanilla...and hamburgers...and sleeping with socks ON.
...the girl whose house backed up to the railroad tracks.
...the one whose dad didn't show up to the father daughter dance.
...the one whose uvula somehow came out with her tonsils.
...the sister always wishing she didn't fall asleep last.
...the one who cried at sleepovers, wanting to go home to her mom.
...the one who loved to imitate others.
...the one who tried to follow the rules.
...the one who failed to perfect that effort.
...the one who listened to grownups' conversations, sitting on the landing, just out of sight.
...the girl who wanted to be all the other girls, because the business of girling, for them, appeared so natural.
...the one who watched you watching her, then immediately assumed she'd done something wrong.
...the girl who always got the bloody nose.
...the one who always loved to play with keypads and buttons.
...the one who couldn't do math to save her life.
...the one who begged Nana to let her watch the Exorcist.
...the one who fibbed and said, "I asked Mom and Dad. They said it was okay."
...the one who had nightmares for weeks after watching it.
...the new kid in 4th grade.
...in love with Pink Floyd's The Wall in 5th grade.
...annoyed by my teacher's coffee breath in 6th grade.
...the one with the broken elbow in 7th grade.
...in love with Kevin and Tony and Jerry in 8th grade.
...in love with Mickey and that baseball player Tom and the neighbor's idiot son (the one who always teased and called me "Cherry" instead of Chrissy) in 9th grade.
...all about getting my braces off in 10th grade.
...all about getting good grades in 11th.
...a leader in others' eyes my senior year, but always wondering when everyone would finally "figure me out".
All the while, I was just Chrissy, dying to grow up and BE someone.
And I stayed that way through my college years...until my first job at 22. That's when I took the more serious moniker for my brand spankin' new, serious, "adult life".
I was no longer Chrissy.
No longer the Chrissy doll.
No longer Chrissy Snow from Three's Company.
Christine, though just a name, was also my armor, and I used it as a shield from my "imperfect" childhood.
The night before my first day on the job, I shed Chrissy... and became Christine.
And while my parents and sisters and close friends still called me Chrissy, the wider world only knew me by Christine.
Or so I thought.
Because a funny thing happened as the distance grew between Chrissyhood and adulthood.
I slowly began to yearn for the "imperfection" of my childhood.
I came to miss the frayed edges, the little annoyances, and the unique experiences that made for the best stories.
As Christine, I was often
Perhaps it's only natural to check the rear view mirror in our late 40s and ask ourselves what we miss from our childhood, but I hadn't done that...seriously... in probably...ever.
So when I looked back, not too long ago -- and I mean really really really dug in there -- I did so with someone I'd only just met. And I said, nonchalantly, upon our first meeting, "Back in those days, I went by Chrissy. Everyone called me Chrissy."
"What do you prefer to be called now?" I was asked.
"Today?" I said. "Huh. I really don't know."
"Well, what does your family call you now?"
"Chrissy," I said. "That's never changed."
"Then it's easy," I was reminded. "That's who you are."
And it's absolutely, 100%, thank God Almighty true.
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