My full name is Anna Gene Moriarty Lev. Anna comes from my dad’s aunt, lovely and gracious, who died young. Gene comes from my mom’s uncle, who also died young and had her sticking-out ears and big smile. Moriarty is my mom’s last name– one she chose for herself in her early twenties, at a time when she needed to make her own name. She chose it from her favorite literary character, Dean Moriarty, of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. My sister and I are the only living people who carry it now. Lev is my dad’s last name, brought over from Russia, meaning “heart” in Hebrew. There are only four of us left using that name: My dad, one of his sisters, my sister, and me.
When Greg and I got married, most people who know me well already knew I wasn’t changing my name. I am publicly proud of this name, and would never change it. There are some people who assume I added Howard onto the end, or who call me Mrs. Howard. I try to correct them politely. Now that we are having a baby, they’ve started asking what the baby’s last name will be.
“Moriarty-Lev-Howard,” I say, “or Howard-Moriarty-Lev.”
“I can’t believe you’d do that to your child,” most people respond, shaking their heads.
Yes, it’s a long last name. It’s three words. It has two hyphens. But so what?
I get really bothered when people judge this choice. It’s like they’re asking the question with the expectation of a certain answer (that we’re only giving the baby one last name, most likely Greg’s), and they aren’t ready to support another answer. It makes me angry.
My name is special. It is a huge part of my identity, and I want to pass that onto my children. I want to tell them about their Meme who they will never meet in person, Viola Rose Moriarty, who’s chosen name they carry in that unwieldy double hyphenate. And about the Levs who escaped Europe with that name meaning heart. And Greg can tell them about the Howards, and all the history that comes with his name.
At the beginning of my pregnancy, I didn’t have much nausea and didn’t vomit at all. As I approached the end of the first trimester however, “morning” sickness suddenly kicked in. Every car ride no matter how short, many nights before bed or in the middle of the night, in the morning if I don’t eat right away, the very thought or smell of spinach…..my stomach lurches and I think, uh oh, here it comes. I run to the toilet, kneel down, and settle in for a terrible few minutes. I do anything I can to prevent it. But sometimes I just know it’s coming and won’t be stopped.
My funniest throw up story is from a weekend in Burlington visiting my dear pal Jory. The long winding drive and rich Italian food had caught up with me as we lay in bed together, her already fast asleep, and me sweating with the knowledge that everything in my stomach was about to come back up. I creeped quietly to the bathroom, which one of her roommates was already occupying. I stood outside the door in pitch blackness, hand over my mouth, contemplating my back up plan of the kitchen sink. Finally, the roommate, whom I had not yet met, came out and I blurted, “Hi!” before running in, pulling the door shut, and throwing myself onto the floor in front of the toilet.
Here are the things I remember about you. There are more than I will say here, but these are some at least, because it’s important. You were the first person I ever fell in love with, and then the only ex who became my true friend. You made really good vanilla milkshakes, and crepes. You had terrible taste in baseball teams. When someone needed you, you were there. When my mom was first diagnosed, you were the only person I wanted to talk to, the only person I called. You understood a lot without talking. You knew the names of so many types of trees– was it 80? You liked Boddingtons (“This beer will change your life”). My whole family loved you. You walked in a certain way that was recognizable from a distance. You had a way of telling stories, a specific way of saying things that wasn’t like anyone else. One time, you made me a bag of all pink Starbursts, resealed the package and everything. You were kind, you loved people, you were a good person. You knew what you wanted. We argued about a lot of things. The last time I saw you I really thought you were going to be okay. You died way too soon. You really liked Eddie Vedder, and chicken cordon bleu. You fought hard. It’s never too late.
Lee Goldsmith was one of the Best People and if you didn’t know him, I’m sorry. Today is his birthday.
I wish I had more pictures. Here is one from a month or so after we broke up in 2003, he came to see me in my last high school play. It wasn’t long after this that we really became friends.
I won’t be drinking a Boddingtons tonight (for the obvious reason that I’m pregnant) but Greg will be drinking one for me. Here’s to you, Lee. I miss you every day.
At the time of this posting I cannot even stand the thought of grape juice. But back then, in late September, there was a day when all I wanted was a giant bottle of grape juice which I could chug until it was empty.
Each day is a completely new day while I’m pregnant, and it’s teaching me to listen closely to my body and to recognize that what feels/tastes good one day, might not feel/taste good the next day. Smokey keeps me in the moment, keeps reminding me that I can’t do everything, that I’m already a different person than I was 14 weeks ago. I’m trying to let go of others’ expectations of me and my expectations of myself. It’s hard rediscovering yourself every day, having no real routine that works, but still having to conform to a routine (going to work, etc.). The fewer commitments I can have each day the better.
Okay. I might have to go barf now.