My name is an intersection I am still learning how to navigate. Jocelyn Kapu'mealani Ng. A compass pointing in 4 directions at the same time. When I first meet someone, I keep my introductions on the surface. "Hi my name is Jocelyn." It is simpler this way. Jocelyn is easy on the tongue. No ocean, no riptide. Jocelyn is Catholic churches and Sunday school. Jocelyn is private university English degree at her finest. Jocelyn is 3 years of teaching ESL. Jocelyn is perfect English sentence structure and pronunciation. The youngest out of 6 children. With 4 girls preceeding, Jocelyn would have been Joseph if born a boy. Joseph after her father's father, a man who drank himself to the grave, a man of intimate affairs, an abuser, these are all the stories I have heard of Joseph. Luckily, I am not this name. I am Jocelyn. I am queer mixed womyn that does not know how to speak the tongues of her ancestors. Jocelyn is learning. I am learning. But you will find my family and friends calling me Joce. Joce is not pronounced 'jock' or 'josh' or 'josey' or 'joyce'. But Like Joss. Like Joss stone the singer. I hate that reference but its the only one my friends in the states can wrap their tongues around. Joce is not as polite as Jocelyn. Joce is rough around the edges, smoke dreams, and late night dancing til only sweat remembers the name. Jocelyn is poet and awards and diplomas. Joce is dismantled ego, once a month therapy sessions and contemplations of suicide. Joce is past lovers' nickname for a woman who didn't know how to hold all the parts of herself. Joce has forgiven and is forgiven. Joce is in the process.
Kapu'mealani (Kah-Pooh-May-Ah-Lah-Knee), my mother would whisper in my ears as a child, "you are my sacred one from heaven. My Kapu'mealani." Before I was born my mother had a miscarriage. The doctors told her that she would not have any more children. One night, my eldest sister Kahea had a dream that woke her up in the dark. she told my grandmother that she met her new sister that was not born yet. That we would meet very soon. My grandmother called my mother and asked if she was pregnant. My mother went to doctor and found out that I was in her belly. My mother reminds me of this memory every blue moon, so i remember how much sacred is in this flesh. Four years after I was born my mother had a second miscarriage. She said she knew I would be the last drop of her brought into this lifetime. Kapu'mealani, sacred one from heaven. Named after a great aunt that held sacredness in our family tree. This is my responsibility now. So Kapu'mealani can trace her Hawaiian side back 7 generations before last names were brought by the west. Before my people needed a second name to know who we were. But I am still learning these roots. Still trying to grasp onto responsibility because most people in Hawai'i do not see Hawaiian when they look at me. I am a mixed bag of flavors they rarely can name. In the states i am only Asian in their eyes. In Hawaii i am unknown. So Kapu'mealani stays hidden, silent, unknown to strangers at first encounters.
Ng (pronounced like 'ing'), my father's last name. Ng is sugar plantations and fishermen tired. Ng was once Young three generations back. But plantations do not care about names. So they cut it in half. Like cutting off lineage. Like cutting off language. Ng survived the massacre. And Ng no longer spoke Chinese. Today, Ng is strong drinking habits and rambling stories. Ng is a reminder, to remember what we once were before colonialism took away the intangible. Names.
Names, the first sacred space our parents let us live in. Names will pull you out of a crowd, will be the arms that love you, will remind you of home and all the home you have never known. Names will transport you to the Azores Islands in Portugal, then to Kamuela on the south side of Hawai'i island, then will have you backpacking in search of the last motherlands of China, and finally to Japan where you will bite your tongue hoping to find pieces of your mother's father. Names left their homes a long time ago. Names will call you back to your own skin. Will be the message in a bottle that traveled long distances. Names will be the map when you are lost. Names will always be more than just words.