My Namesake

I told my friend I liked him once but I guess he didn’t return the feelings, and he turned me down. I was hopelessly rejected. I was distraught. I was alone. I was single. He didn’t want me.

But to be honest, I was none of those things besides single. I had little to no hard feelings. I genuinely adored the boy so I couldn’t help but respect his wishes when he sweetly said, “don’t feel like that about me though, Robyn…” It felt more like a tormented plea for my sake than a bitter rejection for his. “I want you to be my friend,” he told me. So how could I refuse?

Part of me did want to throw a furious four-year-old tantrum though, and fling my arms and legs and beat the floor; but I also wanted to wrap my arms tightly around his neck. Because he’d appreciated our friendship so much. He’d appreciate my camaraderie more than a simple romance with just some girl. I couldn’t be completely sure about his feelings but it simply seemed to me that this friend of his was more valuable than ‘just some girl.’ So I had to feel okay with that.

But I still couldn’t understand how a single guy could love a girl but not consider for a second taking a chance with her. I wasn’t his type maybe? Or maybe he would really just be that bad for me? The scenario brought me back to a conversation I’d had years before with my dad. He’d mentioned some woman who he thought was such a cool person, he’d named me after her.

With the brilliant and concise alliteration of my first and last names, I’d never even thought to learn the full story behind my middle name. It had seemed random at first until one day it came up in conversation in college. I can’t remember how that conversation had started between my friend and me, but he had liked the sound of my name and it made me wonder. Where did it come from anyway? I asked myself. All I knew is that my dad came up with it.

“Deddy, whea you git ma name from?” I looked out the window as I talked to my dad on the phone during my junior year.

“Whatchu mean?” he asked calmly on the other end of the phone, as if that question could have had another meaning. He seemed somewhat disinterested in the conversation, but he was still on the phone so I figured maybe he seemed that way because he was just relaxed or tired. He works hard.

“I mean, whea you come up wit it? How you think of it? Why you gih me dat name?” I clarified.

“Well, iss two names rilly—“

Two names? I’m sure my eyebrows furrowed while he explained. I’d only had one middle name.

“Yeh, Tasha and O’shea. Tasha was this girl I knew.” My dad stopped there as if he had thoroughly finished with the explanation. I wasn’t finished. Who was Tasha and what was O’shea? Did I know this Tasha woman? But I could only take one thing at a time—Tasha… I quickly shuffled through my memory of my dad’s acquaintances, but I couldn’t remember anyone named Tasha.

“A girl you knew? Did I know her?” I asked eagerly.

“Mm…” my dad thought for a second, finally seeming more engaged. “I’onno. You mighta met’uh once? Yeh, I think you met’uh once,” he answered.

I went through the many faces of my lifetime at my dad’s barbershop, the many times I had heard the phrase, ‘this Robyn Robb!?’ Shrill voices would awaken my ears with the inflection of their surprise. “Girl, I ain’t seen you since you was dis bihg.’ But my flawed memory got me nowhere. “Naw. I’onno who dat is atall. She was jus’ somebody you knew?”

Yeh, I jus’ thought she was rill cooh,” he answered. So he didn’t date her I guess? But who was this woman he knew that he respected so much to name his first child after her? What kind of person could she have been? If he appreciated her so much, why didn’t he date her? My thoughts flooded with questions. I wanted to know more about this coolest woman alive in my dad’s eyes, but I didn’t have time. I had to focus on deciphering my name.
My Namesake Continued…

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