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My Home On Essex Cove / Renee With Too Many Es

Pain is easier to mend when we name it.

Renee Walden

My Home on Essex Cove

I live on Essex Cove. The funny word jumbles across my tongue. Essex. That’s not the name you’d find back home– no, it’s Calle 7 or Calle 19 or Calle del Toro. Essex is luxury. Essex is the big white and red brick house my mom dreamt of at 14. Essex is being born in America with too much happiness. Yes, too much. Too much happiness that I begin to see Mama’s hurt. Essex is the street with the white kids who don’t have hurting Mamas. Essex is Mamá without the accent. I like Essex because I know it won’t hold the pain Mama does. But sometimes I wish I could steal her pain from her.

Renee with too many Es

Sometimes I think Renee has too many Es. One too many, just a little unbalanced. My mom named me after an actress who doesn’t get much coverage nowadays, but my name still acknowledges her in everything I do. I would be named Nadia if my dad didn’t have a say, or even Elizabeth if my mom didn’t. I don’t think my name holds a lot of power. Renee with too many Es reminds people of branches skiing on the ground in winter, the extra Es teeter on a seesaw until one topples off, it reminds me of erasing a history held in my family’s veins. No, Renee with too many Es is bare, it’s not like my mother’s. My mother’s name has been bruised beyond recognition with each mispronunciation and joke, but her name holds more power than mine. When she cradles her name on her tongue, she mends each bruise. She reclaims Ximena and lets it dance off her tongue. Each syllable pulls me in until we’re as close as family gets. Ximena and Renee. Renee with too many Es, Ximena with power over me.

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