Original Poem 22: I Chose Liz

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My first name is Elizabeth.

Noble and Davis are the names of my family,

and these names shape my identity.

Elizabeth was given to me,

Inspired by Betsy, who

has been my mother’s friend for many years.

 

I went by Elizabeth for years,

but at age seven I decided to call myself Liz.

I guess that’s the age when you start to discover who

you are: you can think more abstractly, things become more familiar.

And it was up to me

to take charge of my identity,

 

because I was taught to act independently. My identity

was strengthened by a single mother for years

and influenced by liberal parents who wanted me to be me.

Elizabeth felt classic and regal, but Liz

was a better fit. As I grew up, I learned about who

I was: both sides of the family

 

had been in America since the time of the settlers, and their families

who immigrated before them identified

as English, Irish, Welsh, and perhaps a few others, who

I don’t know much about. For a few years,

I obsessed over all-things Irish. I remember when my grandpa said to me,

“Did you know, Davis used to be Davies in Welsh, Liz?”

 

I’ve never been to England, the land of famous Elizabeths.

It was home to my family

when my parents lived abroad before they had me,

before I even had an identity.

I’m going to visit England in less than a year.

Perhaps I’ll run into You-Know-Who.

 

I married a man whose

name is John Hereford, and I have now been Elizabeth

Hereford (which, in my opinion, sounds very British) for the last two years.

And one day we will have our own family,

and choose names, and shape our children’s identities,

and perhaps they will have green eyes like me.

 

Technically speaking, Elizabeth Hereford is who

I am on paper; but my family knows me as Liz,

the girl who at seven years old chose her identity.