I was the only one of my sisters who my mom was able to see as I came into this world – for Michele and Natasha, due to reasons related to their types of births, she was unable to see them or hold them straight away. She would always tell me what a gift it was to witness. And how I came out – legs open, flailing, with a very distinct personality and presence that even the doctor couldn’t help but notice.
Inspired by this experience, she decided to give me the nickname “Vie,” which means “life” in French. For as long as I can remember, my entire life, my parents have called me Vie, or Vie Vie, or other variations of the word which have just happened to evolve organically over time. My dad has come up with lot of his own random spins: Vie Baby, Vie-ball B-ball, Viester, Viesteroni…and the list goes on.
During my childhood, everyone called me Vie. My family, friends, soccer teammates (because that’s all my dad ever called/cheered/YELLED to me from the sidelines).
But no one really does anymore. Not that I’m complaining about it. In fact, if someone that I have just met, or someone who didn’t know me back when that’s all I was referred to as tries calling me my childhood nickname, I DON’T like it.
The me that is “Vie” represents the memories of the past, the memories I miss the most, and the kid I used to be.
It brings me to a time in my life when I was sure about who I was, about who I wanted to be. A time when I didn’t second guess everything, when I just followed my heart. I did and said exactly what I felt, right when I felt it. I was sassy, I knew what I wanted. I was a perfectionist, assertive. I made funny faces, I was weird, I was loud. I sang, I danced, and I didn’t apologize for any of it.
People who know me as Vie knew that me, and it’s a special place to me. It’s almost like the password to my past – to my happiest memories, my happiest place, my happiest me. If you don’t know that place, you don’t get to have the password, obviously. OK, so I realize this is a very strange metaphor, but it comes the closest to describing what I mean.
Today, I’m Ev, and that’s how most people know me. There are a lot of things I love about Ev, but some things that I wish were different. Outgoing at times, but very reserved at other times – definitely quiet right at first. Doesn’t open up right away, isn’t too sure of herself most the time. Quick to put herself down.
To certain people, a select few, I still am and will always be Vie: that vivacious, slightly crazy, little girl. To my parents, my sisters, some other family members. Another person who views me that way, and who is allowed to call me Vie is my best friend, Jenny.
We’ve known each other since first grade, and have been best friends ever since, despite distance and years that have kept us apart. She’s moved around her entire life, and currently lives across the country. Sometimes we go a long time without talking much. Life just gets busy. But when we finally get together again, usually once every couple of years, we pick up exactly where we left off.
We have this connection, we always have. We always have fun together, we always laugh until we can’t breathe. We get each other. We have so much in common, but at the same time, we’ve grown into such different people. We’re both stubborn as hell, and we have had our fair share of arguments over the years. And we’ve gotten into some crazy fights – she meets Hurricane Ev with a storm of her own and sh*t gets reeeeal crazy. Sometimes when we are at our lows, we wonder if things are even still the same as they once were.
But whatever that narrow commonality is – that glimmer of an element that’s necessary to keep two friends attached at the soul – it’s still there. And I’ve realized that it will never go away. Even if everything else about us was to change. She has been always been apart of my life, she is apart of me.
She came to visit me here in Malta and it was the most amazing week. It feels like home to be with her (not to mention, I always get a phenomenal core workout from all the laughter).
We’ve been friends for over 15 years, and we are still learning things from one another. And we’ve both changed in certain ways, shaped by the places we’ve lived and seen, and by the people who have come in and out of our lives. I don’t know when in my life I started losing confidence in myself. I don’t know when I started to become so uptight.
We talked about this one night over dinner at our favorite place, Cara’s (combo of WINE + CHEESE PLATTER + SALMON/PRAWN SALAD is to die for!).
She told me I was wrong. She said she still sees my free spirit, my passion for life. My exuberance, my energy. I’m not as quiet, unsure, and insecure as I think I am. “Come on.” she said, “You’re Vie Baby.”
Hearing her say that made me so happy. First of all, it made me so happy to think that seventeen years from the playground days, here I am, sitting with my best friend.
She picked me up when I fell in the sandbox in grade school, when I fell to peer pressure in middle school, when I fell into insecurity in high school. And now, here she is in Malta with me, on the other side of the world, still ready to catch me if I should fall.
Second of all, her words carry so much weight to me. She has known me my entire life. She’s seen me go through my phases of change. But she still sees in me what I have been unable to. There’s nothing like the words of a childhood friend to make you realize what’s real.
After I saw her off at the airport, I got home and got ready to go sailing with the girls from my program.
The entire day was honestly just so amazing. I am still at a loss for words for how happy it made me. Just the highest degree of serenity and calm. It was bliss, just absolutely perfect. My soul came alive that day, happiness bursting at the seams. Something about the wind in the sails, blowing through your hair, the sun warm on your skin, that liberates you, frees you from worries. The sky was so blue, the clouds painted across it like a piece of art. The blue of the water rivaled that of the skies, and the sun danced in its waves. Pictures didn’t dare do it justice. As we glided across the Mediterranean, cutting through the crisp air and cool breeze, I sat at the bow, tilted my head back, closed my eyes, took a deep breath… I imagine this is how it would feel to fly.
I got to steer the boat for awhile. In some ways, sailing is incredibly complex – you need to fully understand what direction the wind is blowing and what way to aim the boat to take full advantage of it. The sail needs to be at the right angle in order for you to be going at an appropriate speed. But then again, at the same time, it’s incredibly simple – and so liberating. You’re propelling forward, moving so swiftly over the water, solely on the power that the wind supplies.
When it was my turn to take the wheel, I was so caught up on all of the technicalities at first, and it made me nervous. My legs tensed up. I wanted to turn around and ask Lara’s dad every other second if I was doing it right. Is this good? Am I doing it wrong? Do I suck? Does he think I’m an idiot? Are we going to tip over and die?
But then I relaxed, took it all in. I just felt the wind and steered the wheel accordingly.
“That’s perfect just keep it right there, you’re doing great.”
I took a deep breath. The wind sweeping by my face was getting cooler. I looked up into the distance, and as the sky began to turn into shades of pink and orange, and the sea glistened of the last remnants of light left in the sky, I found myself to be in complete awe of my surroundings.
My body loosened up, I was calm. I was happy. My worries were gone.
How appropriately metaphoric.
Evelyn \e-vel-yn, ev(e)-lyn\ from the Latin “avis” meaning “bird”. Hebrew origin meaning “life,” lively, full of life.
I’m in a place where I’m old enough to realize how I am flawed, but I’ve realized that it’s been to a fault. I’ve realized how much I’ve let it consume me, and how much I’ve let it dictate how I live.
I am that little girl who I used to be. Although I am still absorbing and learning every day, I know who I am, and who I want to be. I’ll stop second guessing everything, I’ll follow my heart. I’ll say exactly what I feel, right when I feel it. I’ll be sassy when I want to be, stand strong when I know what I want. I’ll strive for perfection as I wish to, and I’ll be assertive in order to do so. I’m going to make funny faces, be weird, be loud.
I will sing, dance, and not apologize for any of it. I am full of life, and I am as free as my name implies. And I’ve only just barely begun to spread my wings.
“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry