Kayla May. I used to think that my name sounded like an old southern woman's name. Like the sweet tea on the porch drinking kind. But then I realized that May was significant for the month my parents got married and Kayla was inspired by "The Days of Our Lives" I talk about this in the Kaylamay Project. I've always known of the space. Hence theKMPS and each letter representing each part, but in acting school I decided I wanted to smoosh it all together and didn't honor that space. I simplified my identify. Or at least I thought I did. Since that 2013 decision, I've watched and listened to people over the phone and in auditions rooms struggle to pronounce Kaylamay. Looking over the 8 letters as if it were an exotic name with profound meaning. In Connecticut I realized that I had made my life more complicated by not honoring the space and decided to make the change of Facebook. In Kindergarten, Ms. Shaffenaker rad our names out loud for role. There was one other boy in my class with 4 names, after saying the name she said "You don't need 4 names. I'll just call you Jean for short." she seemed frustrated for 2 reasons. 1 - the fact that myself and Jean had taken up too much space on her role sheet, an 2- she couldn't pronounce it. She saw Kayla and that's what I got. Knowing very well my whole ass name was Kayla May. With the space. The space is included. The pause in between, like my acting teacher would often say, "is a gift" but she didn't say it. Just Kayla. I was just Kayla all through grade school until there were 2 Kaylas in my 5th grade class. Finally, I was able to say "actually my whole name is Kayla May, so you can call me that" My 5th grade teacher may have been the first person to see me, Mr. Ballinger a 6'5'' white man who had Marvin the Martian tattooed on his bicep, the ESPN centerfold of Michael Jordan's wingspan in his classroom, and first person to introduced me to public speech. Because I was in that fun gifted program, I was instructed to create newsletters for our class, got firsthand exposure to Microsoft word and designed monthly take home updates for our classmates. Mr. Ballinger made us tell speeches on Fridays. We were assigned prompts and had to go up in front of the class and present. Our classmates then critiqued us, pointing out our ticks and making sure to keep track of our progress as the year unfolded. I learned in 5th grade I rolled my eyes constantly, and spent all of high school correcting that. Mr. Ballinger also talked to us about his work with the ACLU. He was an activist without really explaining to us what it meant. He quizzed us on sports trivia so as to put in to practice the art of researching and googling. He encouraged we read everything and helped us design our own business cards for one speech Friday. With the prompt of, "what do you want to be when you grow up" we each created one. On mine were music notes and a microphone, in bold times new roman was Kayla May Paz Suarez and below read Entertainer. I got up in front of the class talked about how I wanted to become a professional entertainer and answered question about my skillset. A good teacher makes anyone feel like they have the tools to become a professional. Mr. Ballinger did that for me. He was also hilarious. With dry humor and good intentions he often joked about classmates and himself to gather our attention. The space between Kayla and May is important. I'm beginning to understand that now. The more I think about it the more I realize how much I've ignored by smooching it all together. Maybe the space will help me fill in the gaps for the years I spent trying to become a different person. This is a good start, I think.
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