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The Essence of “Aly”

One of my favorite songs, performed by Pink, goes, "Don't Let Me Get Me!" I relate to a lot of the emotions expressed in that song, but for the most part, I've always "gotten" who I am. It was everyone else who couldn't "get me," just like they couldn't "get" my name. If you know my name, then you know me.

 

When I was born, Ali McGraw was a very popular actress. No one questioned how she pronounced her name – it rhymed with "ollie." "Alyne" seemed to stump everyone who said it and most people who heard it, so my parents gave me the nick name "Aly" and told everyone to pronounce it like Ms. McGraw. That seemed to be an easy solution all through the ‘70’s and half of the ‘80’s. Then, "Kate & Allie" came out and no one has been able to pronounce ANY of my names right, since! Okay, that's an exaggeration -- for a few years, EVERYONE could say, and spell, my last name without a second thought.

The name “Harding” was first used in Scotland by a clan of Viking descent. Sometime later, they became British subjects. In the mid-1600’s, a branch of Protestant Hardings moved to Ireland as part of an attempt by the British Crown to squeeze out, or breed out, the native Catholics. Interestingly, there’s a Dublin inn known as “The Harding Hotel” and I once received a flyer advertising a famous Irish Pub called “Harding’s.” Try as I might, I have been unable to find a connection between my family and the Irish Hardings, mainly because my ancestors came to America at about the same time that the Irish Hardings left Britain. The American Hardings also left Britain for religious reasons – they came here to start the Baptist church. Most of my relations are still Baptist, albeit BAD Baptists – at a recent family wedding, there was dancing and drinking aplenty (not that I”m complaining)! I don’t know what the name “Harding” actually means, but I’ve always figured it had something to do with “impertinent” – in every possible definition of the word.

"Alyne" is a very unusual name and I’ve only ever met one other woman who had it. My parents got it from a brass-rubbing of a medieval gravesite of one our ancestors. For years, I wondered what it meant. You don’t find such names printed on bookmarks in bubble letters hanging around in Hallmark Stores. However, when I was 14, a darling woman in my church managed to research the definition and made just such a bookmark by hand! "Woman of Distinction," read the calligraphy on the back. I loved it! It was SO me!

I discovered another meaning several years later. This one requires a bit of prologue. See, I was born May 11 on my great-grandmother, Adeline’s 86th birthday. Adeline was a tad scandalous for her day and my ultra conservative parents were afraid to name me after her for fear that I’d take on certain characteristics of hers – such as flirting with men 50 years her junior or, my favorite: habitually climbing out her nursing home window to grab a beer across the street, then re-entering the home through the front door, making SURE she said "hello" to the befuddled receptionist. At age 22, I was glancing through an old copy of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary when I came across a section in the back entitled, "Definitions of Common English Given Names." I didn’t expect to find "Alyne," but I came awfully close. A-L-I-N-E was listed and one of the possible pronunciations was the same as mine (uh-LEEN). "Y" was often used in medieval times where "I" is used today, so I figured the names must be the same. The definition mentioned that the name was of Celtic origin and that it was a contraction for the French name "Adeline." The definition of "Adeline" read "Woman of Noble Birth." I called my mother and told her about my discovery. She laughed and admitted that I had, indeed, inherited some of Adeline’s savvy and that she was glad of it. I guess God has a sense of humor!

I’ve often been told that I have big dreams for someone so far past adolescence, but then "Dream" IS my middle name! That is, it’s one meaning of "Dilek" – as is "Wish," "Hope" and "Desire." I was named for my mother's good friend and sister-in-law. She's from Turkey and had given both of her daughters, my cousins, Turkish names. My mother, already a fan of eclectic girls' names, thought it would be fun if I had a Turkish name, too.

When I first decided to enter the Information Super Highway, I tried to come up with a unique user name. At first, I attempted to meld my name with Adeline’s somehow, but I was only partially satisfied with the result. The fact is, as much as I have in common with her, I’m not Adeline. I’m someone entirely unique. I played with other options and finally settled on "noblwish." It incorporates the definitions of both my names, while staying within the 8-digit limit that was, at the time, required by early ISPs.

As the years, and ISPs, have gone by, "noblwish" has come to mean more to me than just a user name. I once read a story wherein a tribe of people tattooed their "true names" around their bellybuttons during a coming-of-age ritual. As I read, I wondered what my "true name" could be. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was, in fact, "noblwish." Not only is it indicative of my legal name, which is, in itself, quite indicative of me, but the very word brings to mind good intentions (noble wishes). Although my actions may not always have great results, I always have the very best intentions.

For anyone who still has trouble getting the gist of Alyne Dilek Harding, maybe I should get "noblwish" tattooed around MY bellybutton... in a groovy glow-in-the-dark ink! Now, the question is... what font?

 


(Written in 2002 for English Comp I at North Lake College.  Assignment was to write about your name(s).  My professor asked if she could keep a copy and use it for future classes as an example of a well-written essay.)

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