My Name

In English my name means bitter. In Croatian it means cliche. It means class, and it means ordinary. It is like the number 7. It's holy and revered. It's over-used, over there. A series of pastel blues and yellows. All emanating light. It is the two-step I dance, swimming in the whiskey that fills my stomach, as the tamburaši strum away, sounding like happiness muffling heart break.

It was my great-grandmother's name and now it is mine, too. She was a small woman, born vertically challenged like me, too- which is supposed to mean that you are docile and cute, if you're born a female- but I think this is a man's lie, because men, especially Croatian men, don't like their women strong.

It has all the sounds and vowels of a romantic kind of love. But, it means heartbreak and blind perseverance in faith. To live life throwing yourself, your everything into the hands of God. God, who sometimes removes himself and pretends not to listen to the closed off heart of one who won't surrender to the unknown and uncertainty of this world.

It definition is written in the scars on my legs and the walls around my heart. The ink is black and thick like the emptiness in my soul's well of hope and desires. It may be something that causes their tears to fall on my open wounds from afar smearing the text. It may be made of the arranged letters that make them laugh and feel a oh so touching sense of guilt and pity.

It is to me what I am stuck with in this life. A name I was raised to honor and yet now grow to hate because I am me and not the eccentric love you hold close to your chest at night.

by Maria Babich

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