Carissa Halston


My last name is…unfortunate.   It's a verb.    Nothing graphic.   It's Settles.   As in Settle, third person singular.   It makes my full name sound like a declarative statement.

My first name is no help: Jennifer.   Your run of the mill, dime a dozen, girls' name that shot to the top of the charts in the early 80s.   Though...to be honest…my first name is incidental.   It could've been anything.   I could've had a boy's name.   At the end of the day…I still Settled.

It was the precursor of my adult life.   My parents pushed me through college.   They chose my major and my classes.   I nodded…and accepted.   Such was my lot in life.

I resented it for a long time.   I blamed it for my personality backfires…misfires.   I stuttered as a kid.   Not because I was shy…but because I was so embarrassed about my name presenting my demeanor, before I could even speak.   So, I could barely speak at all.   Not coherently.   I grew out of my stutter.   Actually, I more evolved beyond it.   Now, I pause.   Instead of rushing through my word bank, hastily choosing more words than could logically be pronounced at once…I pause.   I silently envision great winding sentences evaporating off my tongue.   I think in entire paragraphs.   I am a modern mental essayist.

But when I speak…it's a synopsis.   So there are the pauses.   As if I'm stopping to choose the most precise word and in that time, there are great dramatic…sometimes lengthy pauses.

A roommate once recommended that I change my name.   But that would be giving up, wouldn't it?   Besides, part of me is afraid that it's not in the name.

What if it's me?   I just take whatever comes along because it's there and readily available.   Because I'm lazy or afraid that someone else will beat me to it…or that I'll never get a second chance…or that there will never be anything better…

"...I'll just get married," I told my roommate.   "That'll change my name.   Someone will eventually turn up and we'll get married and not settle down.   I'll take his name, we'll travel the world and do everything I wouldn't have done as this person I'm forced into being because my label dictates."

So…until then…I'm just waiting.

Waiting for the change…the transformation.

I'm sitting back until the rest of my life arrives.

I'm sure it'll be any day now.

I'm practically certain.