may day retrospective, part v. named

The origin of a nickname.

I remember the first boy with whom I explored my emerging sexuality. He was a family friend. Ours was a platonic relationship. Rampant with flirtation. Of the sibling nature. Mental sparring.

I must have been about 5 foot tall and 90 pounds, when my body began to curve. He looked at me in my shorts one day, and said:

“Thunder thighs.”

After that, he just called me:


A year later, at 15, had my first real boyfriend, who outspokenly appreciated my curves.

When I covered my thighs, and confessed why, he said, you’re not Thunder, you’re my:



The shining moment of my emerging feminism spontaneously occurred in my best friend’s backyard beside her above ground pool with the built in deck.

We were 17.

My highschool sweetheart swung by to deliver the bracelet he had designed for me. “Kel” was fashioned in gold, with the letter L in the shape of a lightning bolt.

Though I was increasingly modest as I came of age, mainly as a screen for imperfection, I stood up to say hello without covering up.

Before he left, he suggested I do so.

“Why?” I asked, looking out at the grassy sounds of the marshland as far as the eye could see.

He pointed toward the only visible neighbor’s house, a football field away, not a soul in sight.

I laughed. He took offense. We fought. He stormed away.

Before he pulled out of the driveway, I untied my bikini top and stepped out of my bottoms, defiantly nude on the deck, hoping no one else would see me.


I used to think that being a feminist (ie. wanting equal rights) meant that I had to do everything a man does.

At 20, I insisted my father teach me how to change my oil, my tires, my air filter & my spark plugs. I wouldn’t let a guy hold the door or the luggage. I worked a hundred hours a week.

Then I met Casey.

Not only was he comfortable with my autonomy, he found it attractive; while I adored the nurturer in him.


Last night, I went to bed thinking about all the ways Casey tends to our house, particularly the land, almost exclusively. I felt deep appreciation.

Then I thought of my women friends–the ones who chop wood or drive tractors or install electrical work while I barely lift a paintbrush to a wall.

What kind of feminist are you, I asked.

My answer came at 5 am this morning…

I’m me.

The one who likes to read and write and organize and plan and research and inspire and design & maintain systems.

Feminism means I get to be who I am.

And he gets to be who he is.

I call him, Casey.
He calls me, Kelly.


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