I Am Not a Boy

Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

© Copyright 2008 by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek


This wasn't imagined overnight, nor did it expand from a glimpse...this grew over twenty years.  The twenty years of my life have been filled with such exceptional happiness and wonder...but they've also been filled with the shadow of my name.  Everyone's had a moment when they really consider their name...they can feel pride or they can feel sorrow.  A name can be grown into or a name can grow into you.  My name is something I cherish, but at times, its been my bane.

My mother has always been caught up in the whirlwind world of books.  With such a passion for reading, its no wonder that when she was assigned in high school to read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, she didn’t look at it as a chore.  Instead, she eagerly read the novel from cover to cover.

 Without a doubt, she enjoyed the story, but she didn’t come away from it with a new outlook on life or understand any hidden symbolism.  In fact, if you asked her today what the book was about, she couldn’t tell you.

 No, the one thing she came away from the book with was a name.  The name wasn’t Daisy or Jay, the main characters, but Jordan…Jordan Baker to be exact, one of the minor, female characters.

 Jordan.  She liked the sound of it rolling off the tongue and igniting the taste buds so much that she thought at that moment in Time that if she ever had a daughter, she’d name the child Jordan.

 Many years later when she and my father found out that they were expecting a child, they spent numerous hours choosing male names from baby books, but they skipped over female names.  Whenever my father would ask “but what if it’s a girl?” my mother would always answer with a, “We’ll worry about that later.”  Secretly, she already had the female name picked out – Jordan.  However, she didn’t tell my father or anyone else.  She didn’t want them to try talking her out of it.

 My mother had waited all those years to name her daughter Jordan and the time was here.

 “It’s a girl,” said the doctor, handing me over to her.

 My mother’s tears of joy were for: “Yes, we’ll name her Jordan.”  My father and grandmother looked at her with deep puzzlement, repeating the name with wonder.

 Being the smart, conniving person my mother is known for she told my father that he could pick out the middle name.  Since he lacks an imagination, he chose Elizabeth, partially because I was born at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica, New York.  On March twenty-eighth, a pretty girl weight six pounds and eleven ounces was born to this world with the given name of Jordan Elizabeth Mierek.

 Being a happy, innocent child, I grew up knowing and loving my name, until the day that changed it all.  It was the day that I started kindergarten.  Mrs. D, my kind hearted teacher, was given ahead as all teachers are a list of the students’ names.  Since she’s a fun and creative person inside and out, she designed little boy and girl figures for the lockers.  There were nametags for us to wear around our necks.  They were all beautiful and laminated colorful works of art.

 On that first day, my mother walked me to school hand in hand.  My long, curly hair was in two ponytails.  I wore a bouncy red jumper that she’d sewn for me herself.  There are still some pictures in photo albums of that day, prior to the arrival at school, where my face is flooded with contagious sunshine smiles.

 My mother found my desk for me, draped my Jordan nametag around my neck, kissed me goodbye, and left feeling that I was safe, that I’d been left in good hands.  Little did she know all the trouble that high school book she’d read and chosen the name from would cause.

 Not long after her departure, Mrs. D decided that she needed to learn all of our names by calling us up to her in the front of the room one by one.  When she called out “Jordan” and saw the nametag hanging around my neck, she quickly pulled it off.

 “Oh no, dear.  This one belongs to a boy.”  She was all smiles as she said it, taking me gently by the hand to lead me out into the hallway.  She showed me the locker for Jordan, complete with a boy figurine.

 “What’s your name?”  This question didn’t take me that completely by surprise.  Since she didn’t like my first name, I’d just use my middle name.

 “Elizabeth,” I answered with beaming pride.

 However, Mrs. D didn’t like that name either.  Now with a little edge to her voice, she informed me that there were two Elizabeths in the class and they were both already accounted for.  She must have been panicking as she realized that she had a child without a name.  To her, I wasn’t cooperating.  I was just another lying five-year-old out to give her a hard time.

 She marched me down to the principal’s office where I spend the rest of my first day of school.  Now, first days are always traumatic in their own ways, but this only made mine doubly so.  The secretary scoured the files for the school’s kindergarten classes, trying desperately to seek out my true identity.

 After what seemed an eternity, she eventually found the file for Jordan and saw that Jordan’s middle name was Elizabeth.  It also declared the unbelievable.  Jordan Elizabeth Mierek was a female after all.

 Being a creative, artistic person has earned me many awards throughout my days of grade school.  For each one, the school has sent home letters to my parents praising my accomplishment, as schools are wont to do.  Each letter told my parents how proud the school was of their “son”.

 Each year in elementary school passed the same way.  If the teachers had boy and girl figurines labeling lockers, mine was always in the male shape.  If the teachers sat the students by boy/girl, boy/girl, I was always seated between girls.

 Sometimes substitute teachers think it’s cute to call out names with prefixes, as if we weren’t children but adults already.

 “Mr. Moore!”

 “Miss Smith!”

 “Mr. Mierek.”  That would be when I would raise my hand to announce I was there.  The substitutes would just stare at me, sometimes cocking their heads to the side.  They’d look at me as if I was an oddity deserving a display shelf in a museum.  Hopefully that museum was ritzy, expensive, exquisite…preferably in New York City. It’s amazing there.

 In high school, I entered a poetry contest.  The poem I wrote concerned war, an in-depth look at the horrors it evokes.  Guess what – it won first place.  The magazine’s editor congratulated the author, Jordan Mierek, on his poem.  I’ll never forget how my teacher cut out the article and poem, tacking it to her bulletin board.  Out of her desk came a marker, scribbling off the “his” and replacing it with a “her.”  The damage was already done though.  The damper had been cast over the thrill of winning.

 As my high school days drew to a close, and even for a few years afterwards, hardly a day went by without a phone call from a recruitment center for the Marines, Army, and Navy.  They’re always shocked to hear Jordan’s feminine voice.  After talking to some friends, I discovered that the females weren’t getting the calls, but the males were.

 It’s shocking when talking to someone and I mention my name.  They’re reaction is usually one of two things.  The first involves: “Wow, isn’t that a boy’s name?”

 The second involves: “Oh, that’s my brother’s name too.”  It doesn’t have to be a brother though.  It can be an uncle, father, grandfather, husband, male cousin, male friend…but it’s always a male.

 It’s great – in a very sarcastic way – when I’m watching something on television and a male is named Jordan.  There’s an inward wince each time they use the name.  The wince is more violent when, during the starting credits when they show names and faces, a male’s real name is Jordan.  There’s a feeling of: but that’s my name.  It’s more than that that, though…that’s my name and I’m a girl.  How can you have my name when you’re a boy?

 Ever since I’ve been ten-years-old, I’ve been immersed in the world of pen pals.  When exchanging my name with others, if I don’t strictly mention that my gender is female, they often mistake me for a boy.  It becomes a little tedious at times.
 Through it all, I’ve always been me.  If my mother had chosen for me a different name, like Jane or Amy (my sister), or even if she’d spelled it differently, I might have been able to feel more normality in my life.

 In the end, normalcy is something that doesn’t truly exist.  I’ve always managed to be my own person through and through.  Maybe it’s because I had to be someone unusual in order to show them that a name is only something to distinguish you from the next person.  I want to be distinguished for me, not just my name.

Names have always been precious entities throughout history.  Some of them are famous, like Aphrodite and Alexander the Great.  In legends, a true name is something kept secretive.  If others discover it, then they can use it to control you with.  I haven’t learned my true name yet, so for now I’m Jordan, although I’ll keep my true name a secret that can blossom in my heart.

To everyone, my name is Jordan.  Make no mistake, I am a girl.  Of course, you can always call me Jori.  It sounds a little more girlish (even though I’ve heard tell that it’s a Finnish male name).

Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, of upstate New York, is a college student dreaming of becoming a full time author.  She wants to bring happiness, ponderings, and fascination to her readers; to be able to draw them deeply into her worlds so that, at the end, they can step away content.  She can be found in meadows of wild flowers, gowns of black twirling around her legs, while she dances beneath a full moon.

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