The young homeless guy with mountain-man beard camped outside the library, his makeshift bed fenced by towers of paperbacks, asks my name. When I say, Candace, he shouts, You’re a Queen! That means you can eat as many donuts as you want. I laugh, uncertain whether or how to accept his gift. I look it up in the library he rarely enters. The proof’s in Britannica. The next morning, I carry my offering: a box of doughnuts. He and his house of books have vanished.
Candace: ancient hereditary title of the queens of Ethiopia. Name for an entire dynasty, not a single individual. In Latin: Shining. Variants: Candis, Candayce, Kandace (English), Kandake (Biblical Greek). And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasure (King James Bible, Acts 8:27).
Observe: a name festooned with promise. An opulent name given by a Puritanical mother. A mother who would have been more likely to name a daughter something sackcloth, unassuming. Norma — no, Jane. The arrow, not the feather. A hole, no sugar. An empty house. A mother who warned, Don’t expect too much, you won’t be disappointed. Some fancy took hold, and she might have thought she would find love for a girl granted such entitlement.
To live inside a name is living inside a skin someone else has stitched on. Not always comfortable or secure. As a child, I could not ask/make people call me my given name, so loose the fit. Instead, they chose Candy. Diminutive. Confectionary. Joke. Candy. Not to be heeded or attended. Candy occupied by a meek slip of a girl. When I left that land, I claimed Candace, then slowly, slowly grew into its dominions.