Hurricanes have human names, and so I write about them. Over the past 15 years I’ve written about various storms and the baby name trends that followed. But now, for the first time, I truly understand the emotional impact of sharing a name with a storm. Hurricane Laura—Hurricane Me—is on its way to the Gulf Coast, and it feels weirder than I ever imagined.
Friends on Facebook post “We’re watching Laura nervously.” Headlines scream “All Eyes on Laura,” “Laura Lashes Southwest Florida,” and “Laura: Danger Level Rising.” It’s impossible not to snap to attention when you hear your name spoken, or see an image like this flash on the screen.
When I read tragic headlines like “Laura Kills Several in Haiti,” I even feel an absurd stab of guilt. It’s on a level immune to logic, a deep emotional identification with the word Laura that has been reinforced literally every day of my life.
Professionally, I appreciate the experience. I expect to feel a new kind of empathy with people who find their names “stolen” by a celebrity, or even by a product like Amazon’s Alexa. And to my mind, empathy is essential to talking about names. It’s what drives my name-positive philosophy, and what lets me write useful guides to name styles that may not match my personal taste.
But personally, it’s unnerving. Laura is coming, and destruction will follow. To everyone in the storm’s path, best of luck—and my apologies.