As a child I never liked my name. It seemed clunky. It didn’t roll off my tongue. When asked to introduce myself I often stumbled and felt awkward getting the letters to exit my lips in the right order. Most importantly, it just wasn’t me.
Then my name changed. My name became the name my parents might have given me had they been hippies. It became earthy, strong and rooted. It became me!
As a fifth grader I was quite tall for my age. I towered at 5’6” while my friends were still hoping to reach five feet. The winter of that year, my best friend Chelley and I walked to our local high school every Saturday morning to play in the girl’s basketball league. Competitive sports were still new for girls since Title IX had become law only a few years early. Mr. Montgomery was the dad of one of our teammates and he also volunteered to be our coach. He is the person that christened me with the name that would come to define me and remain with me for the rest of my life.
“A kid as tall as you deserves a nickname.” Mr. Montgomery said this every Saturday and he would occasionally try out a name to see if it fit me. Then one Saturday it happened….”Tree.” My name, my identity, the name that gave me something special.
I wasn’t a cheerleader type girl, I was a big girl. Athletic, strong, competitive. I liked to play ball with the boys. My brother and I wrestled, boxed and threw each other around the house. He was older, but I was bigger. I was not a Teresa….I was a Tree!
The name Tree has stayed with me my entire life. Few people have ever heard my “real” name. The only people that still call me Teresa are people that knew me as a small child – mostly older relatives. My mother calls me Tree, my co-workers call me Tree and I always introduce myself as Tree.
People try to make my name fancy. They spell it with one “E” or pronounce it “Tray.” But it isn’t fancy, it is just like me. Big and strong and firmly rooted….it is Tree.