Cual es tu nombre? What is your name? Questions I always get after: “what does your name even mean?” “why is there a c at the end?” “did they spell your name wrong?” “is it syria like the country?” “why did your parents name you that?”… [x100]
My name is a big part of who I am. It’s the first thing people know about me especially if they don’t see my face. You see, Ciriac Isbeth Alvarez Valle doesn’t roll off the tongue. It also doesn’t stab you in harsh ways. It’s so different from names you have heard before, but not abstract from what you’d imagine a name to be. My name is more of just a mouthful that not everyone can handle—which in some ways is a reflection of who I am.
You see, my name is as sacred as yours.
It’s what my parents saw in me, when they said, “You’re ours. Eres de nosotras.” It’s the name that so many cannot pronounce. It’s the eye rolls of “that’s not how you say it” and “well, your name is just too hard, can I call you something else.”
My name is not Ciri or Siri, no it’s Ceedee nor Ceedeea or a barista’s entitled attitude to spell Ciria with an S without asking. It’s not Syria the country, even though that’s what people often say.
It’s Ciriac or Ciria without the c: es quien soy—it’s who I am.
It’s Ciriac like el significado viene de la persona quien quiero ser. It’s Ciriac like the significance coming from the person that I want to be. It’s the hopes and dreams of an aunt who went up to heaven too soon. It’s honoring a person, the person closest to my father I wish I could have known. It’s both a legacy and an honor to a family; a history or I should say herstory. You see, I am the meaning. My very act of existence and pursuit of my dreams is the meaning of my name. The added c in my name is the part of my identity that goes with the color of my skin, of the side of the border I was born in, and accepting all of me. For a long time I dropped the c, and said it was JUST silent because I grew up being called Ciria.
Now here’s the answer to the question that I always get; the story that most people don’t know. Why I “drop the c” or “don’t drop the c” in some cases. I don’t go around proclaiming this, because it’s a tiny secret that I kept in me but now, I want to share.
In Mexico, they register babies a couple of days after they are born. I’m not entirely sure on how it works, but basically you receive your birth certificate after being registered with a person. Keep in mind that is before computers were wide spread and accessible to some degree. As the young impatient woman was typing, she accidentally added a c at the end of my name. As she continued to add all the details of my birth on the type writer, no one saw. Minutes later, my parents and her finished and they paid the full amount of what it cost. It wasn’t until the end— when they saw the birth certificate that they saw the added c. The problem was, they didn’t have the money to have another birth certificate done. The lady was NOT about to accept her mistake nor waste another minute if they weren’t going to pay again. It’s symbolic in the way that part of me was shaped by forms of poverty, of not having enough money, or the confidence to tell this lady that she was in the wrong. It was the accepted defeat and the angry sigh that gave in. She and this moment were shaping parts of who I was without realizing.
Part of my name is a mistake or that is what some people would call it. I however, do not see it as that but kind of a beautiful mishap to represent that my life is shaped by the experiences around me. Who I am is partially shaped by the things that I can’t control. Yes, I can choose to legally change it and take the c off permanently but it won’t erase the fact that it was there. It won’t erase the things that I have lived through in a low income family full of unimaginable love. You see the c is learning to accept the things I cannot control and seeing my positionality in the world as a young, brown, and short Latinx woman.
Maybe that’s the thing; we can’t have total control to the people we become. This is the fight. Our perspectives come from it and in the same ways I cannot control how someone’s views of immigrants were shaped by only news and not people—mine cannot be changed from being an immigrant. We have to accept these things as a reality and fight injustices around us. The c is acceptance and resistance by my existence.
My name is as sacred as yours. Ciriac Isbeth. Yes, I will still go by Ciria because that’s what it was supposed to be and what I grew up being called. But, I will always accept being called ciriac. My uncommon name asks for the same respect as yours. Have the courage to demand your tongue to bend and pronounce names it is not used too. If I can learn a new language, then maybe you can learn how to pronounce a few more names.