Miles Per Hour

My name is MARY PAULA HUNTER. The best part of my name is the initials: MPH. Miles Per Hour. Like my Dad, an early unrecognized performance artist, I change my name around a lot, take on different names, and refuse to pay homage to the immutability of a name someone else dreamed up. Of course as a newspaper reporter, he had the luxury of a byline. You can play with that a lot. Early on, I was stuck w/ith MARY and in elementary school no one had the faintest notion of a name's flexibility, its subjectivity. I wrote new names in chalk on the sidewalk, the rain erasing this heresy. Hell or high water, I wasn't going to be strangled by my own name! By junior high, I told my teachers to call me MARE. Not as good as MILES PER HOUR but I knew to go slow. A few years later, my ballet teacher blew smoke in my face and told me with flared nostrils to change my name to PAULA. I nodded as I stretched my demi plie to either side, my knees at the breaking point, my achilles screaming in sick relief. This began the segmentation of my naming. My dance friends, teachers, acquaintances new me as PAULA. Others as MARE, and of course a dwindling number of old friends, teachers, guardians of my younger self as MARY. Soon, however I introduced myself to a random audience --mail carriers, future husband, and the like--as MP. Multiple personality I chuckled to myself. I now choose a new name for each year I have left on this earth and I predict there won't be many names. My ancestors age slowly--no gray hair, no wrinkles, and persistently immature personalities--but we die young. I figure I'll take on 5 new names and then it will be over. My wish is to have all my names engraved on my urn or headstone beginning with my favorite and first freely selected name: MILES PER HOUR. I guess the first is really best.

-Miles Per Hour, Providence, RI, USA