In a parallel dimension, I’m named Gretchen.

Guess what? I’m adopted.

At birth; no steamy stories here. My birth mother was a teenager, and she made the right decision. I’m extremely close to my mom. (My adoptive mom.)

I’m named for my grandmother, who was straight-off-the-boat Irish. Her name was Brigid Eileen; I’m Brigid Mary. (Can you get more Irish Catholic than that?)

Now, I recognize that Brigid is an unusual name. It’s misspelled all the time. I love when people say, “Now how do you spell that?” And then they don’t wait for an answer. They just keep talking, and spell it wrong.

I always laugh and say, “That’s fine.”

When I was in fourth grade, I took a stand. I started spelling it “Bridget.” This was after insisting people call me “Kitty” in third grade (hey, I loved cats), and after actually convincing my Kindergarten teacher that her records were wrong, and my name was actually “Lucy.” (My mom has a great story about coming for the first parent-teacher conference, and finally stopping the teacher and asking why she kept talking about some kid named Lucy.)

Honestly, it’s a wonder my mom didn’t start drinking.

But despite all my fun with names, for some reason, people always mistakenly call me Gretchen.

This has been happening all my life. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever called myself. And it’s not like Gretchen is a common name. It doesn’t sound like Brigid. It doesn’t rhyme. It doesn’t even have the same feel. It’s not even from the same part of Europe, people.

But it’s always Gretchen. Consistently.

I used to have this theory that my birth mother would have named me Gretchen. That there’s some cosmic connection to that name.

Really, it’s probably just coincidence.

Except I just checked my blogger stats. And recently someone found my blog by searching a name on Google. Want to know what they searched?

Gretchen Kemmerer.


4 thoughts on “In a parallel dimension, I’m named Gretchen.

  1. Uh, ’cause, y’know, GRETCHEN just looks and sounds so much like BRIGID.

    As I think you already know, I wrote a novel ms with a character named Brigid as the protag. Brigid is the name of a Celtic goddess — poetry, wells, healing. Imbolc was her festival, Christianized as Candlemas and secularized as Groundhog Day, the end of winter and the beginning of spring. She also got combined with St. Brigid, who was a strong woman herself, but I’ve always preferred the whole goddess bit. (Why be a saint when you can be a goddess, right?)
    Anyway, I think you’re the only person I know named Brigid, although I do know one Bridget, so I suppose that’s close (sort of).

  2. Wow…on just a whim, I googled gretchen vs brigid and found your posting. I, too, am an Irish-Catholic Brigid, named after St Brigid, one of the patron saints of Ireland. (Just as a FYI, my immigrant grandfather would not have liked it, as Brigid was a ‘shanty’ Irish name since it was so common amongst the immigrating Irish. Folklore says that all maids in Boston in the mid-1800’s were referenced as Brigid as so many of those ‘Irish’ girls were named Brigid, so why not call all of them Brigid and not really learn their actual name.)

    I am consistently called either Gretchen or Ingrid. (?!?!) I assumed that it was because I lived in the midwest where German/Swedish/Norwegian names are much more common and my name had that hard ‘g’ sound and was an unusual ‘ethnic’ name—therefore, it must be one of those more common ones. (again??) But now…..? How strange!

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