After dinner the other evening, my mom and I went on a short walk around the park. The weather? Absolutely perfect. A gentle breeze brushed our hair and faces as we slowly strolled in the near darkness. Our intention? To digest a pretty sweetass meal my dad had made. As opposed to potato-ing post-food on the couch like we often do in the winter.
I love these 1-on-1’s with my mom; they don’t happen that often. I took the opportunity to ask her if she remembered the precise time of my birth (the girls at the Open Center keep asking me so they can do my birth chart). She remembers her water breaking at around 11pm on November 8th, 1983 (I’ll save you the math push-ups: I’m 30 at the time I’m writing this). She gave birth to me about an hour later. I was a compassionate new born, hardly giving my mom a long labor.
So I was born around midnight. The absolute precise time? Will never know.
Anyway, this information was followed up by another question, only this time to have her tell me once again one of my favorite stories.
“Tell me that story of how I got my name again, please?”
So at the time of my birth, there was this law in Ecuador (the country where I was born and where my ancestresses are from) were it was illegal to name your kid a foreign name. I recently tried googling it to see what that was all about, but had no luck finding anything. Anyway, that law is no longer in effect. I assume it was passed to preserve Ecuador’s culture and heritage at a time when America was like, the coolest place on earth (ok it still kinda is), and its culture was being devoured everywhere. In hindsight, this over-consumption of American culture was in no doubt an intended side-effect of the Cold War, but ironically it created responses such as what I’ll call “The Name Law” in countries like Ecuador.
Needless to say, the name “Michelle” was as American as Madonna and neon tube socks. Enter my savvy, charming mother. She held a position at the airport in Quito where she dealt with all types of people. She met a lot of people, naturally, and networked like crazy (yup, that’s where I get it from). She told me that once, when the uber famous Mexican singer Jose Jose was arriving from somewhere to perform in concert, he asked her out. She gracefully declined… though often wonders what if.
Anyway, one day, she helped out a man who was trying to cut the line for whatever reason. She escorted him to the front, and he gave her his business card. One of those, if you ever need anything, call me kind of interactions. She looked down at the business card. The man worked for El Registro Civil.
She wouldn’t use this card till about a year or so later, when she had me. Ever since that song “Michelle” by the Beatles came out, she knew that’s what she wanted to call her kid. Haha…. Enter the Name Law. Enter also the dude she’d met who worked at the building where birth certificates where amongst one of the things they oversaw.
She went to his office. “You said if I ever needed anything,” she said, reminding him where they’d met. “I’d like to name my daughter Mishel. Mishel Esteffani.” He smiled at her, typed out some letter, signed and stamped it.
Now, why “Mishel” and not “Michelle”? You see, phonetically, “Michelle” sounds really different. The “ch” and the double “L” create totally different sounds. But “Mishel”… it sounds like the American way of saying “Michelle”. My mama didn’t know any better, but in so doing gave me the coolest fucking name ever.
For me, the lesson my mom gave me in naming me is this: get clear on your desires, and there will always be a way.
I love you mama!