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    Posted May 8, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What does your name say about you?

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    They Call Me Miss Natalie


    In the beginning, I was named after the 1950's/60's actress who later died a tragic death too soon by drowning, the famous Natalie Wood. She always said that she had dreams about drowning, but I've never had any of those dreams. When I was young, her movies were my favorites: Rebel Without A Cause, Gypsy, West Side Story and my most favorite, Splendor in the Grass. Without a doubt, I wanted to be her and I praised her nature, her independent self, her way of claiming what she wanted with a voice. She complained, pleaded, and demanded her way, even though at times it brought her heartache and trouble. But in the end, she salvaged her values, her courage shone through and her presence was known. So that was the way that my name shaped me. Back then.

    As the years went by, even though at age five or six in school, only old ladies had the name Natalie, I grew into my own, and the name became more popular around America. In my teens, I was the only girl in school named Natalie and people had nicknames for me like Noodles and Pinky and my favorite (to this day)--- Natty.

    A few people called me Nat (short for Nate or Nathan or Nathaniel)...totally not my favorite as I felt it was a masculine name traditionally, but I did allow one of my very nice boyfriends to refer to me as Nat in my twenties (you know who you are!). Today, his sister, a good friend, still calls me Nat!


    Others tend to spell my name with an "h" after the t, but that's too French for my taste. I prefer the Russian version of Natalie which is Natasha (as in Rocky and Bullwinkle) or Natalia (as is my name in Latin, the language I studied all through college) or even as it is spelled and pronounced the same here in Romania...if you must change it up.


    My Italian grandma had the best way of saying it: "Nat-lee"...with emphasis on the "lee"...I loved her very much and I can still hear her calliing me with those inflections while I spun around in the red naugahyde chair in her breezeway as Sunday dinner was being set on the table.


    And now, as I've become older and more experienced, I've taken on the name of Miss Natalie. I don't really know when it began and it was well before I joined the Peace Corps and even before I was a teacher. One of my best friends back in Charleston always called me Miss Natalie in cards and letters and in person! I am her elder by about twenty years, but that's all. So she began to call me Miss Natalie back in 2001, and she still calls me that, so it stuck. In the university, later when I was teaching night classes or afterschool reading programs, the children and adult students called me Miss Natalie out of respect (we were in the South after all) and I loved it. So to this day now, there have been many hundreds of people who've called me Miss Natalie. In Romania, it's Doamna Natalie...the same, but it means Mrs. and not Miss.


    I will always love my name whose origin is from the Latin for Christmas or child of Christmas-although I was born in March.  They say Buon Natale in Italy and being Italian that's also nice. But it also means first born daughter and that I was. First borns have their own ways about them and being both an Aries and the oldest, well, you can imagine that I fit the Natalie description perfectly.


    In the end, my name is who I am and I suppose I became who I was because of all the people whom I've met. And, like Natalie Wood, I long to be heard when times call for action albeit with a little drama and melancholy thrown in once in a while.


    So kids, Miss Natalie does appreciate that you call her that and I will never forget that I am responsible to hold up that name wherever I go in this world, be it near or far.

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