My name is Nora, not Laura.

I swear, anytime I walk into a coffee shop, cafe, or restaurant that calls your name when your order is ready, I am given a new identity.

Almost everyday at lunch time, I walk into the same Starbucks across the street from school, order the same drink, usually from the same barista, get asked what my name is, and end up with the same outcome. “I have a grande three-pump soy chai tea latte, for Laura!” Every single day. I swear, anytime I walk into a coffee shop, cafe, or restaurant that calls your name when your order is ready, I am given a new identity. It’s something that happens so often that I’ve learned to just laugh at whatever name they come up with. I know I can’t take it personally. They don’t know my name isn’t actually Laura, Lauren, Dora, or Erin. Maybe it’s my fault for not speaking clearly enough. Sometimes I’ll try exaggerating the sound of my name in different ways to see if it helps them to hear it correctly. Dragging out the first letter works sometimes, but I realize that I probably sound pretty crazy when I say it like that. I’ve found that saying my name loudly and abruptly ensures the greatest chance that they will hear my actual name. Still, more often than not, people get it wrong, and my drink cup seems like it belongs to someone other than myself. Once again, I think to myself with a bit of frustration but mostly humor, “My name is Nora, not Laura.” It’s somewhat annoying having to correct people when they call me something different, or having to try and listen for names rhyming with mine. My name creates a lot of commotion in my life, which seems ironic seeing that my parents chose my name so it would never be confused with my sister’s.

In case you didn’t hear correctly the first time, my name is Nora. N-O-R-A. Emphasis on the N, because that’s the most common thing people mess up. Even though I know very little about the culture, I am Norwegian. As a kid, I would always tell people that my name was NORa because I was from NORway. Pretty clever if you ask me.

It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I wondered whether or not I was actually named after my ancestor’s country of origin, or if it came from something else. I vaguely remember asking my mom one day why I was given my name, and being completely weirded out by her answer. “We originally planned on naming you Cora, that was great-grandma’s name.” My parents had a thing with giving me and my sister names that were already in the family, I guess to honor our relatives and heritages. But Cora? Really? That seemed like the strangest name ever. At the time, I had an imaginary twin sister named Cora, and I always thought I had the better name. My mom then explained to me that they chose Nora because Cora was too similar to my sister’s name, Carra, and having daughters named Carra and Cora had a high risk of potential confusion within our household.

Little did they know, while sparing any mix-ups at home between me and my sister, they forced me to deal with a different identity issue. The more I think about it, I guess I understand why people think I’m saying Laura or something similar. My name is pretty uncommon. I’ve only met or heard of a handful of other Nora’s in this world. Even though it rhymes with other more common names, I appreciate it’s uniqueness. I like that it’s relatively simple and easy to spell and pronounce. If only they heard me correctly, the baristas at Starbucks would think so too...

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