My Dad texted me this morning out of nowhere. “Some day maybe you’ll tell me about “Paisley.”
I changed my name on Facebook and many other public places to Laura Paisley Beck once I knew the divorce papers were filed. My full name is still Laura Jane Beck Nielsen, but I plan on dropping the Nielsen since I will no longer be married to one, and after specific repressed childhood memories hit me like a race car accident last year, I want nothing to do with the middle name Jane.
The first born daughters on the mother’s side get the middle name Jane in my family. I was the first born daughter to my mom, and, funny story, my first name was going to be Mary. But the doctor who delivered me, who was also a good friend of my parents’, said he didn’t want me to be named Mary Jane. It was what they were calling marijuana in those days. So my parents decided to name me after Lara from Doctor Zhivago, and of course, made it American by adding the “u.” God forbid I had a Russian name! 😄
In college when a guy friend tucked me in after taking good care of me all night (I had a broken heart), as a joke he called out, “Good night, Laura Jane!” I gasped.
“How did you know my middle name?!”
He gasped. “Wait, what? ‘Jane‘ is your middle name? I was just trying to think of the most Walton name I could and ‘Jane’ is definitely it. Laura Jane. Your name is honestly Laura Jane?”
Since then it wasn’t the only time people responded to my middle name like that. It’s not a very offensive middle name when there is no story or series of painful memories behind it, but I also heard in my head several times Tarzan saying, “You. Jane,” in certain situations and that’s not good.
So when I was asked what I wanted to take as my new legal name, I was reminded, “And you can make it whatever you want. This is your chance to choose your own name for your new life,” a friend said. “Heck, you could make it Paisley!”
It sounded great to me. “Paisley” instead of “Jane.” The long “a” could stay. Two syllables instead of one. A word for a pattern and a town with rich history connecting many cultures from many countries over many centuries. A design that would last until the end of man’s existence. A beautiful symbol of everlasting life, growth, beauty, and importance. Yet fun and joyful and rebellious. Lovely. Intricate yet balanced. With a curl like the fancy stubborn cowlick that pushes my hair up off my forehead and makes bedhead look styled.
Why did my friend mention this word? This (actually fairly popular) name? We were just talking about how excited I was to remember I loved paisley, and I found myself ridiculously excited to buy a paisley bedding set, paisley throw pillows, and contemplating a paisley shower curtain. “It’s just so ME!”
It fits. It’s me. I wrote the idea to several pen pals and not one person objected. After I put my name out there and shared a few blog posts I was tickled with the responses I received from friends.
“Is Paisley seriously your middle name? I’m so jealous.”
“Of course your middle name is Paisley. So you.”
And there was even this guy who expressed almost too much admiration by his airy tone with me on the phone, “Oh! Laura Paisley Beck. I love that. Beautiful. So Beautiful.”
I’ll take it. Paisley. The symbol of a game-changer. The symbol of life lived again, as beautifully and courageously as possible. The status of someone who finds their life important enough to make it their own. Paisley. It stays.
Thank you for reading.
I welcome any comments or questions.