'Kimmie' is not my given name. My legal name is much longer and doesn't sound sexy when murmured under one's breath. Not like 'Kimmie' is oh-so-sexy but give this a whirl in bed, 'Hello, Khanh Kim Phuong Nguyen'. While you don't need the first and last names to be strung together for it to be valid, it's considered the formal way of telling someone your name in Vietnamese. After years of teachers mis-pronouncing my name (repeat: Con Kim) and kids butchering it in ways never thought possible (hi, King Kong), my besties in junior high decided a slightly more American name was in order. And so it began with mom lecturing non-stop about how I was throwing away my roots. A small twist on a name and suddenly I was turning my back on my culture? But I loved my new, upbeat name and used it everywhere despite her disapproving glare. The funny thing is...I never actually did change my name legally. Admittedly it was first out of fear but eventually just because I wanted to keep the name that she had given me.
The other day I received a package from mom addressed to 'Ms. Kimmie Nguyen'. My immediate thought was, "Shit I'm in trouble." But it was just a care package and a quick call home confirmed that everything was fine. As little a gesture as that was I feel like we've met somewhere in the middle on this one. So what if it took 20 years to get here, she's finally okay with calling me 'Kimmie'.