One of the characters on Twin Peaks is named Leland, which reminded me of something I haven't thought about in a long time: names. Leland brought this to mind because it would have been my name if I had been born a boy.1 With a first name that's as unique (and as easily mispronounced) as mine, it's probably not too surprising that I spend a lot of time thinking about names and the effect that they have. For example, I am always endeared to writers who use names well in their writing. Names have also come up recently because I'm getting married, which means it's time to decide if I want to keep my name or hyphenate.2 Currently, I am leaning towards keeping my name--I figure I can always change it later if I want.
One of the things that I haven't thought about a lot, though, is nicknames. I have a number of different ones for different situations, the most generic of which is simply the abbreviation of my name: Rhi. Rhi is a nickname that comes and goes for me; unlike the thousands of Matthews/Mathieus that are frequently abbreviated into Matt or Mat, Rhi is a nickname that implies a certain degree of familiarity. Obviously, it's one that's used in my family a lot (along with Rhi-Rhi, which is definitely a family-only name), and when I first went away to school, no one called me Rhi for about three years. It took a similar amount of time for my colleagues at the historic site to using it. Of course, right after that happened, I went elsewhere for my MA, and by the time I came back for the BEd, everyone who called me Rhi was gone. Over the last few years, I've realized that it's a good way of measuring how comfortable people are with me, which I like: it's sort of an easy way to know if someone is really my friend. Now that I think about it, there are only four people in North Bay who call me Rhi.
1 Or Lindsay. Yet another reason to be happy to have been born female.
2 Mat has decided that if I decide to hyphenate, that he will as well.