I was thinking of an old friend today. It’s been years since we talked, so it took me a while to remember that if I were to send her a note, I would have to sign it “Wilkerson”.

No one ever calls me that anymore. No one I hang out with these days would even know that was once my name. It instantly made me smile. Wilkerson. That name makes me think of playing tennis in high school.

There have been so many other names over the years and each one immediately brings up a feeling. An emotion. Or just a memory.

Emmy. My oldest sister always called me that. I think I was sort of like her real-life baby doll for many years. My parents or my grandma usually used that name when I was a kid. It makes me feel so loved if someone says Emmy.

Em. That was — and still is — the name used by my middle sister. And lots of close friends through the years. I always thought it was cool when I got to a point in a friendship that someone switched to Em.

Emil-Bleeding-Bloafer. Now there’s only one person on the planet who has ever called me that. My brother. Isn’t that sort of why you have a big brother? So he can tease you with names that are so, well, horrible? Thankfully, I’ve graduated to Em with him, too.

Emil. There was a point in high school when absolutely every friend called me Emil. It doesn’t sound that flattering, but it was a good name. It meant I fit in. (I really don’t like it when people call me that now, unless they were a friend in high school. Otherwise… no.)

EmilLynn. The name my friend Lynnard (aka, Lynn) and I gave our joint self due to the fact we spent so much time together. That name makes me want to drag Main in my Camaro singing Janet Jackson songs really loud.

M-L-E. A few high school buddies called me this in reference to the license plate on my car.

M-and-M. My youth group leader in high school. He and his wife were so nice. Ahhh. I now can only imagine what they put up with back then.

Smiley-E-Miley. There is only one person who ever called me this. The best friend of my college boyfriend. I think he hated me most of the time, but once in a while, when he decided we could be friends, this is what he would call me. On those days, it did make me smile.

Schmem. This was the name give to me by my friend, and identical twin in college, Schmar (aka Sarah). We were both editors at the Daily Illini. The name came from my top priority in deciding who I could and could not date in college. Namely, that I refused to date anyone with the last name, Schmemily. With this unwavering standard in place, I avoided any risk of bearing the unfortunate lifelong name of Emily Schmemily.

Wilks. A buddy at the newspaper where I worked. This name makes me laugh, too. We had so many inside jokes about the criminals around town. The politicians. The attorneys. The other reporters. “Hey, Wilks!”

The newspaper girl. The toy lady.

A lot of people these days use my first and last name together, as if it were one big word. When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone else my age named Emily. Now, I know at least three other adults and, of course, 50 little girls between the ages of 3 and 12, so a lot of people throw my last name on the end. My sales director puts a THE at the beginning followed by the whole name. She actually does that with EVERYONE, but it still makes me feel special.

Sunshine. Darling. Honey. Those names have brought me some serious joy from my sweet husband. I don’t even know what he would say if he was going to call me by a real name. I do know I better watch out if he calls me Emily. On those rare occasions, I know I must have made him mad.

So-and-So’s Mom. I couldn’t believe it the first time people started identifying me in reference to my children. Now, I even identify myself that way.

Mom. Mommy. Mama. Oh, how I LOVE it when one of them calls me Mama! My heart is bursting with love when I hear those names.

A lot of people call me Emily these days. And that’s OK. But if you ever want to make me feel good, just leave off a syllable, throw in a rhyme or call me whatever you think might fit. It’s sure to make me smile.

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