Sunday, May 9, 2010

Heathen Sparkle

I don't have a very common name; it's currently several spots below the 200th most popular girl's name in popularity. Perhaps it's something about Boston, but lately it's been everywhere. I take pottery classes with my friend Heathen, and it makes me realize how unaccustomed I am to sharing my name with someone. Every time anyone so much as whispers her name across the room I react physically, even when I KNOW they're not talking to me. There's a Heathen in one of the kindergarten classes I've spent a lot of time in at school. I went to a tapas bar on a non-date the other night, and ordered the Heathen Sparkle from the cocktail menu (weirdly, the other cocktail on the menu was named after the Brazilian, who also does not have a common name).

And then there is my Facebook friend, Little Heathen. I got a friend request from her two years ago with a note: “Hi! My name is Heathen, and in April I'm getting married and I'm becoming Little Heathen!! So we'll be name twins!” What a strange, interconnected world we live in that allows us to be friends with our name twins.

I didn't accept her right away, but after a few days I thought, why not. I should welcome her into the ranks of Little Heathens; there aren't many of us. (My last name is not common, either.) Sure enough, she got married a month later, and I looked at her wedding photos and noted when she officially changed her name on Facebook to Little Heathen. I looked at her honeymoon pictures, and thought “They look like a nice couple,” and occasionally, “Wow, that's a lot of tonsil hockey she's playing with her husband on Facebook.” At some point, when she was looking through my photos, we realized that we're both from Maine, and commented on how funny that is, two Little Heathens from the same little state.

In August the pregnancy announcement came, through a photo reference to the film Juno. I thought it was a cute way to tell people, even though I also thought that she was young to be getting married and having a kid (she was 22). But who was I to judge; lots of people do it, and I decided to be supportive.

Then things started to get a little off-kilter. First I noticed one day that her name had become hyphenated. She still had my last name, but her maiden name had been added on, too. Hmm, I thought, what does that mean? Upon further investigation, I noticed that there were quite a few photos of Heathen with a bald, unattractive man who was not her husband. Sure enough, when the baby was born, there was the bald man cradling the baby, with the announcement: “My newborn baby and her proud papa!” The birth came close to a year after her marriage.

These days, Heathen no longer has my last name at all. Her profile states that her relationship status is “In an Open Relationship.” Her ex-husband, on the other hand, seems to have moved on: he's engaged to another woman, and guess what – she's expecting!

I have to conclude that, despite being name twins for a time AND coming from the same state, Heathen and I are not that much alike. After all, I'm pushing thirty-one and haven't even been engaged once yet! What a late bloomer. Still, I've developed a certain fondness for her and her crazy life. We've been Facebook friends now for two years, and who knows, perhaps in another thirty years we still will be. It will be quite interesting to see what those years bring.

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