When I was young, I wasn’t too keen on my name. ‘Levi’? What the hell kind of name was that? Everyone else had normal names, at least to my ears. They had names like: Marcus, Sam, Orlando, Rebecca, Pam, Jay, Rudy, Carlos, Gabe, things like that. But me, I was way off in left field – Levi. I wasn’t cool with it. Every time I would appear in front of a mirror, I would talk to my twin, and I would not call him Levi. I would call him something I wished at the time I was called – Tony. Interesting the things you find cool at different stages of your life. Yep, Tony.
So I would talk to Tony about the goings-on of all manner of quotidian things – school, friends, girls (well, maybe not so much girls, wasn’t too into girls at that point), Transformers, clothes, hiding spots…you know, boy stuff. The whole time it was just me and him taking life on. People may have thought I was a bit strange, but it was cool because I had Tony, and that was a cool name for someone to have in their back pocket.
Fast-forward a bit. In high school all my friends called me things like, ‘Yo,’ ‘Hey, man,’ ‘Dude,’ ‘Bro,’ etc. It wasn’t that they didn’t know what my name is, and it wasn’t that people never called me by my name. They certainly did…they being mostly the teachers.
Then, it was off to college. I think that, for a period of time, I had given up on the trying to fix my name issue. At least I had thrown it completely out of my mind then. I didn’t not like my name at that time: I was just sort of weaning my way off of the battle against how it sounded to me. Levi. Yeah, there was still something odd about it, but not disturbingly so.
College passed,, travelled through Asia, joined the Navy, and found my way back to civilian life. I found that it was more people in my out-group (those not all that close to me; those who hadn’t quite reached a fully comfortable social level with me) who would most often use my name. Made sense. It’s just a natural progression of social protocol, I think. You call someone by their name before you go out on a limb and call them, “Bro,” or “Dude.”
That was still happening in the military, but with my chain of command (my endless cloud of supervisors and subordinates), it was my military rank followed by my last name. Petty Officer Stribling, or, if we were friends or you were my boss, just Stribling. That was cool. To some of my very close friends, it was simply Strib, which worked equally as well.
I don’t know when exactly it was, but somewhere in there, I really began to dig my name. Started to love it. Perhaps it was in one of the random bouts of me going on some etymology (name origin) sites or talking to people that the interest really started to kick in. My parents picked my name from the Bible, and I’ve never really been into the whole religion thing. Someone had said Levi was a priest and the head of the tribe of the same name. I had also heard he was a tax collector and a madman. Getting more exciting. And on and on. I found some similar stuff online, but nothing really that stated any one thing categorically. But, I was starting to really look at my name and get a sense of how cool it was….is.
Levi isn’t a name that is all that common, but I’m starting to find or hear about more and more people using it. I remember that I didn’t meet another Levi until I was in my late teens. Still it’s just one of those really cool names. Kerrie and I met some guy last night whose son’s name was Levi. It was another example of how it’s getting more and more popular, though I don’t think its one of those names that people are going to be using left and right all over the place. It is growing, though.
I haven’t seen Tony around in a long time. When I look in the mirror these days, he doesn’t seem to show up. He’s still there, I’m sure, and still a good friend, but we just don’t talk all that much. The one guy I do see staring back at me is, me, Levi, and I love that name.