Call Me Ella
By Camryn Haag
If you could go back to the day you were born and ask for another name, what would you choose? Currently, I would love to be named what my parents almost named me, “Piper,” but as a preschooler, I would have loved the name “Ella.” The name of my childhood role model, of a fearless and independent girl, of my favorite princess, the name of the protagonist in my favorite childhood movie: Ella Enchanted.
I was obsessed with the movie, so much so that I watched it every day. We all had movies like that, the ones your parents and older siblings, and even you, could act out because they had seen the films so many times. Fortunately for my family Ella Enchanted was and always will be a timeless movie. I mean how could it not with a phenomenal soundtrack and great cast? I can attest! I watched it recently and found myself enthralled by the music numbers, enamored with Prince Char, and inspired by Ella’s strength.
She was a “cool” princess. Not someone who sits and waits for a man to save her, not someone naïve who eats a poison apple or pricks her finger on a poison needle, not someone that helpless. No, she fought her own battles, broke her own curse, carved her own path, all while being caring and smart and the beautiful Anne Hathaway. She was everything that four-year-old me wanted to become, so in a way, I became her; I dressed as Ella for Halloween. My mom sewed a miniature version of Ella’s light-blue cape for the centerpiece of my costume, and I wore it with such confidence. That one glorious day of dressing as my idol left me unfulfilled, I needed more of Ella, more time as her, so, I decided to wear that cape to school, running errands, at restaurants. Virtually everywhere I went that cape enshrouded my little body, providing armor against all the bad of the world like some sort of magic cloak. No laugh or remark could compel me to take that cape off because when I wore it, I was her. I was strong, independent, clever, I was her. I even insisted upon being called Ella. My family, extended family, everyone called me Ella, and it was so much of a thing that I was given a cup that said “Ella.” I really was her.
I am unsure now how long this went on, how long I was called Ella or when I stopped wearing that cape. I was a child, so the imaginative haze of youth surrounds these memories. All I really remember now is that cape, that cup, introducing myself as Ella. A house flood destroyed the cape; we donated the cup to goodwill; I now introduce myself as Camryn. The only evidence I can offer from those days exists within me, in my resilient and independent and caring nature. Ella was my role model, I was her, but now I think that she may be me.