Born Amelia Lynn Barnes, but called Amie, never Amelia, I suppose it was written in the stars that I would grow up to wonder about the connection between name and identity. I changed my name 11 years ago to River Amie Lin. The legal change was easy, but socially, it continues to evolve. I never made a big announcement when I changed my name, so it was awkward with people who knew me first as “Amie”. Introducing myself to new people was easy – “Hi, I’m River”. Eventually I was able to move past the awkward thing by just telling people who already knew me that I changed my name. Answering the “WHY” question however, was more difficult because the answer is personal and rather mystical.
It was over the course of at least a couple of years in which I was dealing with depression and using my writing as a means of healing. The image of a river kept coming into my writing. I also realized that most of my early childhood drawings included a river somewhere in the picture. I was drawn to the river, almost compulsively. Many revelations were discovered at the river’s edge and in her current as I observed and studied the various features of the river’s character. I was also meditating a lot at that time, and for me, meditations bring unexpected visions. In one of those visions, God called to me, “River, my child…” and I was overcome with peace. I knew myself then and I knew that I was named “River”. I heard the voice clearly and felt the hands of spirit on my face. “Yes,” I replied, “yes.”
That was a turning point in my healing. It took about another year before I fully accepted it on a conscious, logical level. When I got divorced in 2000, I added the name change to the procedure. I kept my first name as my middle name and took my original middle name and adapted the spelling for an Asian feel as a representation of the “Japanization” that occurred during 15 years living submerged in Japanese culture and to connect to my children’s heritage. I became River Amie Lin: River, as called by God; Amie, named by my mother; and Lin, my own creation that represents my identity, independence, creative freedom, and the unique characteristics of my life as I have chosen to live it.