First, I need to clarify a small detail. In my day-to-day life, I go by the name ‘Alegra.’ I’m pretty sure there are a few people out there convinced that somewhere in my twenties, I decided to rename myself Eros The God of Love, and that this decision happened when I had been camping for too long at a fishing village down in Mexico. After filling my belly with sweet, creamy mangos, lounging about beneath the hot sun and drinking filthy water, I paddled out on my surfboard, caught a perfect right hander and declared, “From this moment onward I shall be known as a hyphenated woman! I will be Eros! And I will be Alegra! And it will be Good!”
No, I was given the name Eros-Alegra. It’s written on my birth certificate. The combination of Eros and Alegra roughly translated into: Love and Adoration. Somewhere around the age of five or six, my parents began to rethink what it meant for their little girl to use the name of a Greek God as a calling card. It was only in my later years, when Eros once again made its way into my world for legal reasons, that I understood their point. One day I walked into a theatre class to find one of my male classmates on his knees before me, declaring, “Eros! Eros! Eros! If I’d only known, I would have been worshipping you like the divinity you are!” This was not an isolated event, but one of the more ‘family’ friendly ones. So, Eros took a backseat to Alegra. I find myself a little distressed when people refer to me as ‘Eros,’ as if they’ve just bent down and caressed my shadow without warning. And then I remember: Oh, that’s my name.
An old friend of mine once suggested that the hyphenated name worked perfectly to describe the two parts of my writer self: Eros is the wild muse who doesn’t care about punctuation, syntax, or whether or not you believe that the toes of a statue can whisper as they creep across the grass in search of prey. She growls, swings from branches, dresses herself in moonlight and would probably consider Jack Sparrow as the ideal best friend. Alegra is the anxious, OCD taskmaster. She scurries around like the White Rabbit, wringing her hands, checking the time. She straightens the picture frames hanging on your wall when she comes to visit. She speaks in a professional voice and knows that white shirts and black pants are what should be worn to meetings with literary agents in Manhattan. She applies liquid eyeliner with a hand so steady it makes surgeons groan in envy. Alegra runs around after Eros, tidying up, making apologies, and smiling her best hostess smile. In other words, she is the editor.
I liked this idea because I have so many voices in my head, I figured that now at least two of them would have names I couldn’t possibly forget.
So, recently Eros has been moody. Tonight, as I sat on a chair with my head between my legs, blow-drying my hair so it would have volume, volume, volume (because I’ve never quite gotten over the eighties), I overheard a conversation between Alegra and Eros taking place in my brain.
Alegra: “What is with all of the sighing and attitude lately? You could at least give me a blog. Something more than a few pathetic Facebook status updates. I’ve had to spend all my time editing all of the whining you’re doing to our friends.”
Eros *hands on hips, looks pointedly down and sighs*: “I wouldn’t expect you to notice.”
Alegra: “Notice what? Notice that I’ve been having to single-handedly work on this master’s thesis train wreck? That I’ve been having to write VERY difficult letters without your help? And what are you doing? You’re coming up with theories about why Jesus wasn’t immediately recognized after the resurrection. You’re spinning analogies for our life based on scenes from The Neverending Story. You’ve been in the garden all hours of the day! There’s dirt under your fingernails. Flouncing about in the shore break doesn’t count as a shower, no matter how turquoise the waters are!”
Eros points to the body that only exists in the imagination: “This has been my issue. I’m pregnant. Yes, its ours. Our hideous progeny (*bonus points to anyone who gets the reference…I put money on ‘english lit major’*) I want paid maternity leave. And since you didn’t notice that I’m doing all the work here, I want you to rub my feet and hand feed me a gourmet meal of metaphors.”
Alegra stops pacing and lowers her voice, “Really? You mean, there’s something in there? I thought that was gas from the last draft of the novel.”
“Oh no, that was just the beginning you silly creature. Now get back to your businessy-business and leave me alone to do what I do best. I will summon you when it’s time. Oh, and here’s a blog just to shut you up.”
I turn off the hair dryer. The muse and editor go silent as the first line of the next revision begins to trail its fingers through my mind.