My name is Elizabeth and I grew up in the lower, North Eastern part of Wisconsin. However, I married, moved to South Eastern Wisconsin, raised four children, graduated college after a divorce, became a Free-Lance Writing Instructor, was pronounced disabled, and moved back to the city of my birth. And those two environments are worlds, as well as miles apart.
For instance: I grew up being called Betty, but after moving away, as an adult, I took possesion of my legal and baptismal name, Elizabeth. I’m into definitions and those two names reside within me and are also worlds apart. Elizabeth literally means “God is my oath” ( a name one could grow into forever), while Betty, often wrongly defined as a derivative of Elizabeth, has no literal meaning whatsoever. Who would ever want to be defined as ‘zilch?’ Its been hard work to get them to compromise, but I’m more happy with the outcome than not.
I lived in SEW for almost forty years, still introduce myself as Elizabeth, but most often get called Betty, sometimes not responding with anything but a blank expression. Friends and family who come to visit risk whiplash trying to figure out who Betty is, while other relatives here, insist that I have always been Betty and that is that. And in a very real sense, I am and will always be both.
Elizabeth is the college graduate who loves to sling words (Have word, Will travel), loves to teach others how to do the same, is intimidated by large social gatherings, loves to engage in deep and profound discussions about almost anything, but prefers the subject of the inherent value of all life, and the need to constantly seek its purpose, is published in both prose and poetry, loves slow rides to nowhere, is intense about relationships, music, the written word, some movies, and can prove that the personal is political and its opposite.
Betty, a definite North Wisconsin hill-billy who lives beneath the roots of all of that, hates being told she has to do anything (actually going immediately into rebel mode at the mere suggestion), loves to sing any song that pops into her mind, emphatically confronts the issue of abuse when it crosses her path, loves to go fishing, and laughs deep down from the belly (having been told frequently that she has a particularly almost evil chortle), doesn’t know how to accept a compliment gracefully, sometimes feels wholy inadequate, but continues to blunder her way through a life she defines as mostly accidental.
Combined together they are, for the most part, often polite, but forever retain the right to become, when necessary, a force to be reckoned with.
Postscript: Although, in my mind, Betty and Elizabeth have clearly distinct voices, if you would like to meet them you are welcome to do so by visiting my main poetry blog. There, you can read two different poems one by each of them, yet both written by me in close succession. The first is Betty, the North Wisconsin Hillbilly. The second is definitely Elizabeth.