Maybe the question isn’t “What’s in a name?” as Shakespeare so eloquently put it but “who is the name?” Growing up I answered to quite a few names. Actually I still hear all of them. Antonia is what my parents named me, but my granddaddy said it was too hard to say or remember. He christened me Sunday instead. Then Tone-Tone was bestowed on me by a relative on my dad’s side of the family. I introduced myself as “Toni like the tiger except with an I” in college. Antonia. Sunday. Tone-Tone. Toni. It’s a wonder I don’t have split personalities for each name. Talking to a friend the other day made me think about how many of us go by nicknames with family and close friends. Are we different people with each name? Does a name make us change?
I’d like to think I’m the same person with every name, but in certain instances I can see some variations in personality. That’s not to say there are 27 different people living inside of me. But Tone-Tone is definitely not the same as Toni or Sunday. Tone-Tone is the child-like little cousin and full of restless energy. It’s a name I grew out of for the most part, like someone called Boo-Boo or Pumpkin. I do still hear it from time to time. Toni is the talkative but humorous friend. That nickname is used with casual acquaintances and close friends alike. Sunday is the charming and ambitious grandchild. Use of this name demonstrates a closeness only found with old, old friends and family. I’m likely to be even goofier around my friends as Toni. Of course Sunday will make you smile, but she’s a lot more practical at times. Tone-Tone comes out when a moment calls for a child-like innocence.
So who is Antonia? The sum and difference of all these names. The name that looks good on the surface. The professional name. There are slight differences in how I respond depending on what name is used. Ultimately each one equals me, Antonia. The only name without an identity is my middle name. J. is in hiding for now. One day she’ll come out to play.