We had to have been around 8 years old before I realized that my name didn’t solely belong to me. I opened a book– the title of which I’ve never been able to recall– and there on the dedication page was my name in italicized font: To Jada, who loves clouds.
Clouds? When did I start loving clouds? I mean I wasn’t against them per se, but I could think of much better things to love like my Rabbit Finds A Way Book or my Wile E. Coyote stuffed animal. You couldn’t hold a cloud or play with it, or most importantly, use it as a weapon in the never-ending civil war with your siblings. It didn’t keep you company– it do anything for you except bring rain.
I’d never heard of another Jada before then and though I was initially shocked, I realized that there could obviously be doubles. Afterall, there were two Stevens in my class at the time– Steven J. and Steven S., and there were always multiple Mike’s. If there could be three people in one class named Chris (and one was a girl) then there could be a multitude, a tribe of imposters out in the larger world calling themselves by my name. I didn’t like that idea at all. Almost all of these name stealers couldn’t even pronounce our name properly, using the harsh long a sound–Jay-da instead of the soft and endearing Jah-da.
Even at a young age, I understood fitting in, but I didn’t want to be exactly like everyone else. I wanted to stand out — just not too much. And my name made me special, right? because no one else had it. But now there was this Other Jada on the scene with her stupid clouds that were ruining my I’m-the-only-one vibe. I didn’t even know this Jada, but I was already jealous. She was probably taller, better at sports, prettier and a much better singer (not a hard feat that one) than I. Because you don’t just dedicate a book (especially one’s that they make you read in schools) to some mediocre Jada.
I eventually found some pleasure in the fact that though my name didn’t belong solely to me, it didn’t belong to her either. It was like communism or split custody rights– we got equal parts of it. It wasn’t even that bad since she only had my first name. Do you know how much havoc is wreaked when there are people running around with the same name? Take this for instance, or this (weird they are actually half brothers). And of course there is identify theft where people purposely steal your name. You probably shake your head whenever you hear of someone trying to trademark their/their child’s name, but I completely understand their reasoning behind it.
I don’t think I ever actually read that book. I spent most of my 2nd grade reading time day-dreaming and imagining the life of this Perfect Jada I still think about her sometimes and I wonder if she’s still tarnishing our image by being a lover of clouds.
Every once in a while, I’ll type my name into google or Facebook just to see what The Others are up to and what they are doing in our name.