Fragments of life By Nicolas Rocca
The name “Nicolas” means victory. My parents chose this as my name before I was born, and they knew what it meant. My mom is Italian, and wanted something that was similar to the Italian translation of “Nicholas,” which is “Nicola.” I don’t understand why my parents wanted something out of the ordinary, since it only causes people to spell it incorrectly. The name feels like something to live up to, like a special family bloodline. I can understand why they liked that it meant victory, but it doesn’t quite apply to me, since I don’t have any goals of reigning victorious over anything. For example, I don’t play any competitive sports, and the sports that I do play (like skiing and golf) are just for recreation, so I don’t have any ambition to win anything. I’ve always liked the way it sounds; modern yet traditional, still clinging to its Italian origin. However, I’ve also realized that there’s a nickname for most names. Whether a person addresses me a “Nick” or “Nicolas” is like a flashing light that indicates their tone, which I’ve always used when socializing. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of my friends don’t know my first name, since it’s only used in formality. My last name, “Rocca” means “strong fortress,” which has always appealed to me. The way “victory” and “stronghold” go well together has always been something special about my name, like two halves of a whole. I always wonder if name definitions can tell something about a person, as if their name is somehow fused together with their personality. If it were true, it would have to be very complex, since I do not see a path of victory in my life. Since I don’t understand why my name means “victory,” perhaps it is because that I will look back on it towards the end of my life and discover why it is.
I have always been confused as to why nobody else in my family has eyes like mine, icy blue with a grey tint. My dad and my youngest brother have brown eyes, and my mom and middle brother have green eyes. However, one day, my grandmother, who lives in Montana, visited us. When we met her the airport, she finally greeted us, and I noticed she had the same blue-grey eyes. To this day, she is the only one of my ancestors with this trait. I wasn’t surprised to see someone else in my family with it and it didn’t bring any closure to my question, but instead led to a realization. What amazed me was how one trait, as tiny as a color change, remained visible in me, but not in my other family members. This instance in my life practically froze me in time and forced me to think about how details in people can skip many generations. This moment sparked my amazement most of all when realizing that every person is different. While it sounds like an obvious statement, looking at a person is seeing their past, essentially viewing what the people before them looked like. Moreover, I’m surrounded by people every day, surrounded by generations of exclusive characteristics and details, as though past generations are being layered over one another to create one entirely new human being. I find it shocking to realize how complicated people really are, and that small details, such as eye color, prevent no two people from being exactly alike. Even twins have one small difference in their fingerprints that set them apart. Even with a small difference such as this, every person seems to have an identity that is specific to them only.
In my life, I’ve never been one to be openly disappointed about anything. While some setbacks may be discouraging, I am not easily let down. However, one exception that sits in the back of my mind was Easter Sunday a few years ago. Normally, my mother’s entire side of the family visits, and it is one of the only times I get to see them besides Christmas. Every year they would pull up onto our driveway, sometimes arguing among each other in Italian, and they would slowly trickle in throughout the afternoon. Each one of my aunts and uncles would always bring mountains of pastries and other Italian foods. Their presence made Easter more of a family union than a holiday, and I looked forward to seeing them every year. One year, however, my brother was sick in bed with the flu, and my aunt had called and said my cousin was also sick. Not only could nobody come to our house, but my brother also kept throwing up. That evening, we had our traditional Easter dinner, but it was far from complete without my extended family. While Easter on the following years was as memorable as before, that one year tainted what was one of my favorite holidays. It marks the time I’ve been most disappointed, a bad memory that I still carry in the back of my mind. However, it reminds me of the fact that as much as I enjoy food on Easter, my family coming over means much more to me, and that I should never take it for granted.