a small helen story

she reminds me of Adam sometimes

On naming Helen:

J. said that I would know her name the moment I saw her.  I didn’t believe her, but she was right.  The moment I saw her I recognized her.  There was Helen.

We had a small handful of names that I carried around like small smooth stones in my pocket.  Of the girl names, there were about eight (more like seven, really, but I just couldn’t let go of Eudora.)  Five of the eight (including Helen) were just along for the ride.  Just three names were “the likely ones” and the only names I expected we would need: Nelle Blythe Whitlock, Eleanor Alice Whitlock, and Margot Francis Whitlock.  I liked them all.  And they all spoke to me of different girls, girls that very well could be THE girl.

But of course, they weren’t.  She wasn’t.  And Adam and I both knew it the moment we saw her.

She was not Nelle, not Nelle on its own.  She needed more heft, more legs than that.  Eleanor was older and longer, but it was too cool and light- more like May than August, really.  And Margot was not like August at all.  Not even a little.  No matter how nice it is to say.

I did not say that I thought her name was Helen.  I wanted to see what we would come to together.  But after a day of scribbling and searching Adam spoke the words and we both knew it was true.

Helen Wright Whitlock.  Our girl.

(And, incidentally, Helen means “torch” and I think that is just right.)


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