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.
And the nickname fits you perfectly. You dont look like a Teresa, so whatever quirk of fate made it happen, I’m glad your name changed.
The only thing I sislike about my name is there is only 1 E. 99.9% of people dont look at how its spelled so I’ve had to gave important documents changed. Most recently voter registration card.
Thanks Jackie! I’m not real sure what I would have become as a Teresa!!
I barely remember you as “Teresa”. It seems you were always Tree and I don’t think I ever thought twice about it, because it just fit. On the other hand, I’ve always disliked my name, especially after my mom told me (when I was about 9 or 10) that she wanted to name me Penny, but one of my brothers begged her not to as he had a classmate he disliked by that name. I was heartbroken! Penny seemed liked such a cool name, it was the name of the youngest sister on Lost in Space and it seemed more me than Robin. Oh well,,,,I was born in March, I was my mother’s 10th child and as she sat in the hospital bed holding me, she looked out the window and saw a Robin. And it was a done deal. I guess I should be grateful, she didn’t see a crow! Or a dove..I am not a Dove type person, for sure! Great post, Tree!
Robin, I love the story of your name! I also love your glass half full thought…cause it would’ve been strange having a friend named “Dove!”
Thanks for sharing!