I never wanted kids. I’ve said this since I was a kid myself. I don’t see where they would fit into my life, but I have entertained the idea more than once. Not because it was something I wanted, but because a time or two I’ve crossed a person I would possibly want to share a kid with. With those hypothetical scenarios came names. I’ve had lots of names.
How do you name someone you’ve never met? We don’t do it to dogs. We look at them, we wait for their personality then we name them.
I was born Christiana Leita Williams. My mother is queen petty. She gave me her maiden name Williams because my dad couldn’t make it to the hospital for my birth due to work. He’s a hardworking man. He was livid when he learned this. The second he got a chance, he went down to the courthouse to get my name changed to Christiana Leita Harrell. The person that I would remain most of my life, in well, scholastic and professional spaces. In my lax life, I’d always be someone else.
My first name was supposed to be Norma Daleneisha Harrell. Thank God for mamas. But I’m not too keen on defending her. Even though she named me Christiana, she’s allowed everyone under the sun to call me Christina. I think she never corrected anyone because it’s what she wanted to name me until my aunt gave her the extra vowel to make me “unique.”
I wouldn’t correct it when I was younger, but as an adult, I will straight up lash out or give you silent treatment.
My dad called me “skinny,” because well, that’s what I was and in comparison to my four siblings, I’m the runt if the litter.
My family calls me Tina. They refuse to give me my “A.”
My grandmother used to call me Chrissy.
My great aunt called me Teeny. I think I’d cry if anyone else ever does. She’s my angel now. This one is too heavy to get into and I’m trying to finish this blog.
I gave myself the name Teety because I loved tweety bird growing up and wanted something close but not exact.
Priss was my name when I was wild and hanging with a gang of girls that liked to party. The vicious girls. Oh, to be young again.
My baby sister, the only one I talk to, calls me Tee.
Then there is Chris. Co-workers that I had at The Children’s place saw me as one of the guys but still a girl, so Chris I am. My aggressive side is pleased with this.
None of this is why I wrote this blog.
I got married back in 2014 and took on Christiana Parrish. Since leaving my ex, I’ve gone back and forth about going back to my maiden name, but I woke up this morning and realized Christiana Parrish is who I am now. I asked myself why I wanted to change it anyway? Because of who I got it from? Anything can be reinvented. And might I add that when I decided to be Christiana Parrish, a wife, I rocked that fucking role. I took it head on and I fucking killed it. If I ever want to be a wife again, my partner better come with it because my resume is hella impressive. Faithful? Too easy. Honest? I got that. Temptation? Don’t even know what that is. Supportive? I’m the motherfucking MVP. I can sit here all day talking shit about amazing I am. I mean, I have my flaws, but nothing that could destroy a heart. I don’t try to do that. So again, I asked myself why I wanted to change. To please people I come into contact with romantically? For what? I have a history and my name is a part of it. I don’t have to explain that. If I’m being my happy, single self freely, then I owe nothing to nobody, but myself. I don’t have anything to hide. Christiana Harrell was and still is an author, sister, friend, and daughter. It’s Christiana Parrish that has thrived beyond who I thought Christiana Harrell could be. If my “person” wants to have a sit down over beverages and tears to hear my long story, I’ll be down.
Because in being this free, I’m learning what I truly want and that means needing someone who will give me grace and honor a choice I made once upon a time. A choice that taught me more than anything I’ve ever read in a book; and I love books.
August 9th 2014. The judge said to me sign the name of who you will become. Now that day is a day of reflection for me. Beverages and tears.
I earned my name. I always say that marriage made me a woman. I thought I was a woman before, but I wasn’t. Living and existing aren’t the same thing. I was existing, just paying bills and watching Netflix in my lonely world. I was still happy, but there is always more to be done.
The challenges that I faced would have never come had I not been a wife. I met my rock bottom in marriage and after. It showed me what I was truly made of. I lost myself then found myself again through only myself. I’m living now. I belong to nothing and no one. Traveling isn’t just a conversation anymore. Everything that I desire is in my reach and all I have to do is go get it. All I have to do is say yes.
Before, love was my guide, but not in the right way. I loved other people and used so much of my energy trying to help them be the best versions of themselves. I’m done with that. I’m not waiting on anyone. I'm not compromising. I’m not sacrificing. I’m living for me and loving me harder than I ever have in my life. That means embracing all parts of myself without regret or shame.
People have this ridiculous idea that they are supposed to feel like the first and last. That’s unrealistic and it made me see why a lot of my romantic situations have failed. I’ve only met one person who saw me in my fullness. Others only take the parts of me that work for them, ignoring the parts of me that might not be for them. This part of me not for some people.
If I’m meant to have another name one day, I welcome it. I’m ready to meet her and introduce her to all the other pieces (names) that have made me whole.
Shout out to my Mom, the woman that carries her names like badges of honor. Her story? Love and love again. It’s never too late. Tammy Lee Williams-Harrell-Daniels-(Davis)-Robinson-Mauldin.
You know, I have to have a million thoughts about why folks need to leave studs alone. Studs are women, mainly Black women, just trying to be accepted and loved and I want to protect them like I want to protect all Black women. Because let’s be real, the world hates Black women. They’ve been objectified and commodified forever, so naturally, a masculine Black woman needs to be protected at all costs for so many reasons.
However, studs be TRIPPIN' trippin'. Somebody needs to have a conversation with them about their collective boisterous misogyny. You know how folks say Black men are the white people of Black people? Well if that’s true, studs are the white queers of black queers. I hate this identity politics shit, I really do. It’s the reason I can’t formulate decent professional relationships with people. But if you’re gonna draw the identity card then at least have the decency to understand the complex nature of identity and performance.
I’ve given studs more than enough chances at love with me in the past, but I’m on some never again type shit at the moment. Simply because a lot about their identity makes me feel like if I wanted to date someone with masculine energy that openly and actively hated me, I would date a cishet white man. I’m good love, enjoy. Sure we should transcend our experiences and not let them become us. And I’ll do that when studs stop trying to be my dad--most of them all my day, to be unpacked on another day.
We (queer folk) have done this really fucked up thing in the LGBTQIA+ community where we somehow re-stacked patriarchal order but with queer identities (which is another reason to do away with identity politics). Almost, like, we can’t exist without somehow oppressing someone who has less social agency than us or something. But can someone kindly explain to studs that just because they perform a masculine identity that does not inherently mean they need to exude toxic masculine energy? Some examples I’ve witnessed in life that makes my ass itch:
These things are really not even half of my issues with studs. I could go on and on about how studs also share this fuckery onto other queer groups like gay men and trans people. LORD do not get me started on the transphobia of studs. I will just say that studs have a lot of guts going in on trans men when they have parallel experiences when it comes to being clocked about their gender. Knock it off and understand we are in this together. You may have become fluid in the language of the oppressor but your gay ass still ain’t no citizen. Remember that the next time a man catcalls you and says “I know what you’re hiding under them baggy clothes”. Remember that you are still a Black woman. Remember that.