Fragrant Orchid Poem

i hated my name when i was a kid. teachers never got it right during roll call. i wanted a name like Rachel or Julie, but my grandparents couldn’t pronounce it.

pronunciation is up for debate. peter pronounces it one way, i prefer it another. either is correct, tho i think my preference is more right.

and who named me is still unclear. it’s been stated that my paternal grandmother named me. she does have a history of naming her grandbabies. i was there when my first half sister was born, she showed up in the hospital room and threw out a “suggestion” that was really a command to be followed. and it was followed. but there’s the timeline dispute. i don’t think she knew of my existence until bio mom showed up with me sick in her arms, seeking help. i was already a year old. so it’s natural for me to think that bio mom named me. peter vehemently denies it and i haven’t the inclination to prove him wrong.

now the meaning of my name. Lan is chinese and vietnamese for orchid. combine that with peter’s and bio mom’s names and you get Fragrant Orchid Poem. pretty yes? that’s one interpretation. Phuong also means “phoenix” or “direction” but that doesn’t flow right.

when i became a citizen in 2007 the interviewer asked me if i wanted to change my name. had she asked me when i was younger i would’ve jumped at the chance, i would’ve wanted to erase my ethnic name and chosen a western name, easy to say and remember. but i didn’t become a citizen until i was almost 30 and such things as roll calls don’t exist in my life anymore and i can’t imagine answering to any other name. while i don’t identify with the meaning of my name, i feel like i own my name now, regardless of pronunciations.

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