“Kelsey,” I heard my mom shout from the living room. The only reason why my mom would call me by my first name would be because an apocalypse was approaching or that I forgot to wash the dishes. I scooted off the mint binder that was resting between my thighs and rustled the AP World History outlines I attempted to complete away from me. Trying to reach my door was the ultimate maze. I braved through piles of clean clothes that I deemed unworthy to wear that morning in order to reach the white, wooden door that separated me from the rest of the house in one piece.
I turned the corner of the living room to reach the source of my mom’s call. Our walls, painted in pale yellow, started to show a shadow in the shape of our curtains as the Florida sun set behind my neighborhood. One corner of the living room was not yellow but a burnt orange, glistening from the wick of a freshly lit candle. Cinnamon apple, my mom’s fall scent burned all year round to make the house feel like it was in a different season even though the Sunshine State only had one.
I made it through the living room and into the kitchen. My mom, still wearing her green shirt from a work day at Dollar Tree up the street, bent down over our dog, Maggie, who eagerly waited for her dinner, to gently send the jingle of kibble into her bowl that had goldfish painted on its side.
“Yeah?” I hadn’t done the dishes.
“Did you take out the beef for the meatloaf?” My mom went to the cabinet by the door that lead to the shared backyard with our duplex neighbors to put Maggie’s food cup back with her treats and extra bowls that she could never have enough of.
I actually did do that.
“Yeah! I put it in the microwave when I got home.” Maybe she didn’t notice the dishes.
“Great but why are these dishes not done?” My cheeks, now heating up, showed to my mom that I did not do the dishes– something she knew since she called my a few moments prior.
My name, Kelsey Brogan Fiander-Carr, consists of 23 letters, 24 characters. Although I like to believe that there was a magical way in which I was given this name, there isn’t. My mom named me after her CVS manager’s granddaughter, Brogan. Very interesting, yeah? But I guess this still begs the question as to why Brogan became my middle name and not my first.
My great grandmother, Mrs. Fiander, or “mommom,” despised the name Brogan. I don’t know exactly why, but her disdain toward the name was more than enough for my mom to legally name me Kelsey. And by me being the third child in her marriage, I was ultimately given my mom’s married name, Carr, as well as her grandmother’s last name, Fiander, which she adopted in her twenties to be legally connected to the couple who raised her.
This legality of my name did not change the rarity in which my first name was spoken at home. To my mom, I was Brogan. To the world, I was Kelsey.
I remember when I wasn’t just living with my mom and siblings but with my father as well. I was four when they seperated and later divorced. I was four when four people in this world called me Brogan.
When my mom was in Pennsylvania visiting her sick grandmother, she left me in the care of my father.
One night, as I slept like a caterpillar in my Winnie-the-Pooh comforter, I was awakened by the banging of furniture. I rubbed my eyes thinking I was imagining the noises I heard from beyond the protection of my door.
I waddled out of my room with a thumb in my mouth after recently being stripped of the comfort of a binky. My comforter, still wrapped around my underdeveloped body, dragged across the tile. At the end of the hallway, I saw my father, struggling to stay balanced on each of his hands and knees.
I approached slowly, one foot in front of the other, shivering as the tension went through every limb in my body. As I reached him, he lost his handling on the floor and dove into a puddle of chunky liquid with a sour stench.
“Brogan,” escaped from my father’s quivering lips. When my middle name left his mouth, my longing to be called Kelsey came but never came again. I stripped myself of my comforter- turned-shield and tried to sop up the liquid under and around my father. I used a dry corner to wipe my father’s cheeks. After this moment, my small hands could have released my grip from my comforter. Maybe after that my father turned to face me.
“Thanks, Brogan,” he would have said.
I did not see my father more than a handful of times after turning five. My father’s Brogan was in charge of praising me for cleaning up the aftermath of a night of bar hopping. His Brogan was pronounced in a way that did not fill me with comfort but with confusion– the confusion that he would call me by my mom’s given name for me.
I can’t remember the last time I was called Brogan because I tended to not like the name when my mom was still alive. I thought the name was weird, and because all of my friends had the middle names of “Marie,” “Elizabeth,” or “Rose,” I did not think that my strange, medieval sounding second name sounded like I would be a part of the ‘in crowd.’ I only minded my mom calling me this name of strange origin. She lit up each time she said it out loud with an expression on her face that I can’t quite explain or remember correctly.
Now, at the age of twenty, it has been almost three years since I’ve been called by my second name. Each time someone addresses me as Kelsey, I enter the downward spiral of trying to place the exact last moment I was called Brogan. Maybe the last time I was called Brogan was when I was at a Wawa with my mom. Maybe she called me over to debate what kind of hoagie she should get. Maybe she called me Brogan when I got into the car after school. Maybe she called me Brogan asking me what I thought we should do for dinner.
That last memory I have of being called by the name that unified the relationship I had with my mom could quite possibly never come to me. I may never remember a final moment with her. I may never remember a final moment that I was Brogan.