I was named Jennifer Melissa Dryden twenty-two years and nearly three months ago. My mother wanted Jennifer; my father wanted Melissa. No arguments were involved, just plain determination for me to be named right away – my brother was “Boy Dryden” for a week in the midst of uncertainty. Five years later, I arrived – a girl – so the name was ready, just five years late. Would it be Melissa Jennifer Dryden or Jennifer Melissa Dryden? My father looked down and told my mother to choose – Jennifer Melissa was her final answer.
My father worked as the manager for Greenline Equipment in Sac City, Iowa since I was born. I grew up wearing the green and yellow John Deere deer on many of my clothes. His store was open for me to ride around on a mini tractor through aisles, down the hallway where I stopped to visit his staff at their offices. Chad, my brother, took inventory and straightened shelves, even mowed the lawn that displayed the huge tractors. Sometimes dad would bring home big lawn movers and I’d climb onto his lap and we’d cut the grass around our blue and white house. I was daddy’s little girl – I even wore a pink hat that proved it.
At night dad would turn on the nightly newscasts at 5, 5:30, and 6 p.m. then at 7 p.m. he’d flip to CNN and we’d watch Larry King Live … as a family. I always hated laying there on my mother’s lap while the monotone anchor droned on about nothing – at least to a seven year old. I’d distract myself by coloring in my Precious Moments book or playing kitchen in the closet close by serving only the best of plastic food.
Separation hit when I was nine, divorce by eleven, and now he lives nine months in Florida and three in my hometown. Now I wear those green and yellow t-shirts to bed as pajamas – all faded and torn. Now I find my eyes glued to CNN whenever a free moment arises. I watch at least one of the nightly newscasts and always catch the 10’ o clock news. In my name and in me lay a part of both of my parents; they’re called Jennifer and Melissa. Even though Melissa isn’t heard as much, it’s still a part of my name, a part of my father, and a part of me.