My name is Liana, and I have never found my name on a magnet in a gift shop. Not a single bracelet, hat, snowglobe, or decorative license plate has ever been made for people with my name. I see ones for Lauren, Leah, Lily, and Leo, but never for Liana – although one time, I did find a sticker book that said Ariana, so I cut it in half and shared it with my brother, Ari.
This burden has traveled with me through museums, amusement parks, and beach-front souvenir shops. I check every time, between Liam and Logan. To no avail.
That’s why I knew I had a true friend when I met Yonatan. His troubles have been different than mine, because his friends always told him, “Just buy the Jonathan one!” But despite the Johns, Jonahs, and Nathans on the spinning rack of keychains, he has never found a Yonatan.
Together, Yonatan and I lament at the fact that gift shops seems to eagerly take care of Caitlin, Kaitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlyn, Catelin, Catelyn, Caitlynn, Catelynn, Katelyn, Katelynn, AND Kaitlynn, but none of our friends, Meira, Avi, Leora, Eden (boy), Noa (girl), Shoshana, or Eitan.
Sometimes, we have friends who think they know how it feels. “I rarely find my name,” says Naomi. Or “They usually have the wrong spelling,” says Maia. But even when their names are spelled wrong at Starbucks, they often have the luxury of at least being able to use their own names when they order. Yonatan and I (known to baristas as Brad and Becca) look at each other and laugh. We know the true struggle. And we have since birth, when our fathers, Joel and Howard, placed a weight on our shoulders that they could never begin to imagine.
At least we have each other – but he’ll never feel the disappointment of learning on Ben Yehuda Street that his Hebrew name is spelled wrong too.