Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heidi Heilig

Heidi Heilig, 30, Lyricist/Bookwriter, Prospect Heights.

What's the story behind your name?

"My married name is Heidi Heilig, which sounds like something no parent would ever do to a child, and it wasn't. I picked this.

I was born Heidi Yuk Hung Hansen-Young, or Hansen-Young, Heidi, according to the attendance list at school from which they drew the seating charts. It was Mother's Last Name-Father's Last Name, Mother's Favorite Dog. I was told that to get my Chinese middle name, my grandmother paid an old monk at the Kaneohe Buddhist Temple to throw the bones, and that it meant "Jade Angel," but when I ask people who actually speak Chinese about my middle name they look at me quizzically, their heads tilted, much like Heidi the Dog in the old photos my mom keeps, and say it means nothing.

But that last name, though, that meant something. In Hawaii where I grew up, my mom had become a famous artist, and so no one knew me as Heidi; they knew me as Diana Hansen-Young's daughter.

It also meant something else. It meant that in Trig, Shakespeare 1 and 2, and US History -- basically every class that had a seating chart -- Hansen-Young, Heidi was sitting right next to Heilig, Bret.

I didn't have to change my name when we married. My mom hyphenated hers, and I like to think that I'm a feminist. But after being Diana Hansen-Young's daughter for so long, I thought, why not take a name that no parent would ever dream up? Why not take a name that I had to create myself, out of Romeo and Juliet and a squared plus b squared and General Sherman's march to the sea? Why not take a name that meant something?"

1 comment: