The people are coming and going, filled with anxiety and anticipation.

I am in a line of travelers—squeezed with a mass of people, waiting to move.

I am about to pass into the next phase and approach my gate.

I hand the airport official my boarding pass and ID.

This is when it all happened, starting with her casual response.

“Thank you, Miriam.”

And there it was.

My name.

Her response was habit, given to hundreds of names the same morning.

It was meant to give me the go-ahead. But instead, it stopped me.

Did she just call me “Miriam”?

Caught off-guard, I actually checked my license.

And there it was.

My name.

I was deep in thought as I reclaimed my belongings and started my march to gate C17. I have seen it on papers, but no one has ever just called me “Miriam” like that. As if it was my name. I tried to make sense of the feelings circling my heart upon being casually referred to by a name given at birth, but practically lost for twenty years. Approaching my gate, I realized that while I was about to board a plane and fly across the country, I was also having an inner voyage. In a world of travelers, something within was coming home.

I have seen it on papers, but no one has ever just called me “Miriam” like that

I arrived at my gate, having made the decision to start thinking more seriously about making my Hebrew name a more vibrant part of my life.

When I got to my gate, I had to pick up something that my father, who had taken a flight twenty minutes earlier, had left for me by the counter. He told me he would put my name on it. So I came to the counter to pick it up.

“Hi, I believe my father just left something here for me. It should say Mimi on it.”

They handed me the envelope. To be totally sure I would be able to retrieve it, my father had put both my names on it. Right beside the “Mimi” was written “Miriam.”

So, there it was.

My name.

But this time, it was lodged in between two parentheses.

In these moments leading up to arriving at my gate, I had no casual response. I looked at my father’s handwriting on the envelope and, for the first time in a while, felt very sure about a personal decision.

The name I was given at birth does not belong in parentheses.

The voice within started telling me that I better make this name mine before it gets locked into only official and meaningless occasions. I can’t let my Hebrew name be scattered into casual oblivion all the rest of my life.

I thought about the first Miriam in the world. Moshe’s sister and one of the seven prophetesses, Miriam is known for her independence and strength of spirit. When it was decreed that all Jewish babies were to be thrown in the river, she was outspoken in the face of adversity, convincing her own parents to continue conceiving children. It is because of her conviction and bravery that the leader of the Jewish people was born.

An essential part of my identity was being revived

Miriam stood up for what she believed in. I wasn’t about to let down my namesake.

So, right then and there, I ripped “Miriam” from the tight squeeze of the parentheses that have held it for way too long. In a daring and monumental escape, I felt a little fear and a slight lack of readiness. But my consciousness was buzzing—and I felt obligated to respond.

Surrounded by movement, I was forced to look within myself and make something more permanent. For twenty years, my real name was floating, and now I felt it starting to land. In a place where no one truly exists, an essential part of my identity was being revived.

For now, the decision to embrace my Hebrew name feels more like a responsibility than a strong desire. I feel more like a “Mimi” than a “Miriam,” and I have not had a wild epiphany that has led to a rejuvenated connection to my name. It is more the feeling of injustice in not being connected that is encouraging me to make it more a part of my life. While the conviction in this decision is not of the nature to officially ask people to start calling me “Miriam,” I think I will be delighted to turn my head when hearing it called. For while my realization has nothing to do with feeling so connected, it has everything to do with wanting to be.

With this newfound relationship to my name, I already find myself feeling more whole.

I know my name.

And my name is Miriam.