I have a had a different name for each phase of my life. When I was born, the name at the top of my adoption papers read Baby Girl Walker; by the bottom it was Aretha Mae Brown. Aretha Brown was a happy care-free girl. When I got married at 18 yrs old, my name changed to Aretha Mae Nelson. After a couple years of marriage, Aretha Nelson was a overwhelmed wife and mother. When I divorced, it returned to Aretha Mae Brown; by then she was a depressed confused young women.
After years of emotional and financial struggle, when I turned 30, I changed it to Adeeba Malika Bashir. Adeeba was tired, but hopeful. I married Duane ten years ago and I became Adeeba Dwanimen Deterville. For the last decade I’ve been creating her. Adeeba Deterville the nonprofit/corporate professional, co-founder of Sankofa Cultural Institute, Duane’s wife. Adeeba Deterville is frustrated and unfulfilled.
I took on the name Dwanimen ten years ago too. The thought was that she would be the grounded, wise-woman me. My “bachelorette party” was part bridal shower, part naming ceremony. It was my second attempt at naming myself. I’d tried it before with taking on Adeeba. But instead of focusing on Dwanimen, I focused on Adeeba/Deterville. But Dwanimen never left me.
So, now at 47 and a half, I’m finally embracing Dwanimen. Who is Dwanimen. I ask myself, what does she smell like, how does she wear her hair? What kind of work does she do? Does she eat vegan/raw? What kinds of books does she read. Does she travel? What languages does she speak? How does she spend her time? How does she express in the world?
Here’s some of my vision of her. Dwanimen’s presence is calming and healing. She flows. She smells like amber, sandalwood and patchouli. She radiates coolness. She is like the colors of autumn. She is the rich harvest season. Creamy like Kailua, smooth like cognac. Simple, easy, relaxed. She’s like dark chocolate mixed with cayenne pepper. She is me.