After exceptional consideration and bogus assumptions, I have decided to finally define the meaning of my name. I have completed twenty-three years of living with this name I have just about had it and heard it all. Join me as I take you on a wild journey from past to present that includes just a little bit of everything.
Get ready to buckle on your seat belt, grab some tissues, and your favorite snack, while enjoying the remarkable complications behind the meaning of Journey.
Ass Instead of Ask
Are you named after the Rock Band Journey?
I do not know how many times I can answer this question before I become blue in the face and my head explodes. The cause of death would be excessive blunt force trauma to the head from a repetitive question. Sorry if you do not pick up on the twisted humor, I’m a Scorpio.
Now I must add that only White people ask me this question. It’s unfortunate that I get mistaken for the all-White band and literally only know one song. I am only half embarrassed that I realize the song that has been the soundtrack for many shows and movies that I have seen include a track that I just figured out was by them last year.
It is one of their biggest songs to date…at least it’s the most mainstream that I have come across. Before you die of suspense, I must tell you (breathe it’s not that deep) because the song is only 1980s classic “Don’t Stop Believin’.” I feel so much better that I just let that out to you because I have only revealed this to a handful of people within my inner circle.
Coincidentally, Journey was based in San Francisco (where my mother’s family migrated to after leaving Louisiana). They formed in 1973 consisting of former members of Santana, Steve Miller Band, and Frumious Bandersnatch. Their biggest success period ranged from 1978-1987.
In the present, they have lost, gained, and rotated members. Fortunately, the group is still trucking, and they continue to make music. They have an album Freedom to be released this year.
I promise I am not a hater, but neither is my mom (who is responsible for my name) we just are not the big fans people have made us out to be. It is just a huge coincidence that leads to a lot of mix-ups. I cannot say after my big discovery that I have sought out their catalog, but one day I know I will get around to it. Only then will I come up with some witty rebuttal to respond to the repeated question.
Unfortunately, I was pushed to write this quicker than I was going to after an interesting exchange with a White woman at my place of employment last week. She said something I had never expected to hear, but you must understand the environment. Black people are outnumbered, I would say a needle in a haystack, but that might be too dramatic.
Now on to what she said, I know you are patiently waiting. She asks a clueless Journey this: “Are you named after ‘journer?” I look back at her, and you know what I am thinking, so I will cut right to it.
She adds: You know ‘journer. Sojourner Truth the slave.
I am having an outer body experience now because why would she ask me that?
How do you get “Journey” and think “Sojourner?”
I had a lot of questions. I still do. I was offended that she had reduced our beloved icon, revolutionary abolitionist, and women’s rights activist down to a slave.
Our African American history or Black history is very important especially in times like this past Black (Future) History Month. We have a past full of highs and lows, but it sets us back to not mention our accolades and accomplishments. It was something about the way slave came out her mouth that triggered me, she was so comfortable.
I know Sojourner Truth did not want her legacy to be reduced to former slave and neither did she want those after her to still carry the same fate under new conditions where the sentiment is still the same. You could be the most talented, richest, good-looking humanitarian in the world, but all some people will see at the end of the day is your complexion followed by the descendant of a slave.
Now before we get too heavy on our Black History lesson, which will be a collection of several posts to be discussed soon I must carry on my journey.
Everyone else usually says it’s cool, original, and creative. Some even ask me if it’s my real name, which always makes me laugh. Every time I share these name stories, my mom always has something funny to add.
This past Saturday, I was telling her the latest one and interviewing her on the intentions I had for this blog post. She had the sarcastic nerve to say, “No, it’s a stripper name.” Now to know my mother is to love her because she is truly a gift in all her logistical Virgo humor.
I am still laughing because I would pay good money to see a stripper named Journey. Who knows? If this venture fails…I might have found my next occupation.
If you know me in real life in any way…I am probably just joking. My hustler mentality is just strong, but if that exotic dancer, Journey is out there please let me know because I got some ones for her. Just tell her to meet me at Magic City or The Blue Flame, and I will explain later.
I say all that to say, if you are intrigued by the name please do ask, but do not be an ass for assuming.
By The Book:
According to Oxford Languages, Journey in its most basic context means, “an act of traveling from one place to another.” The one that really resonates with me most is Oxford’s second definition, “a long and often difficult process of personal change [or] development.” I know this to be the truth because my mother confirmed it and well, I am living it.
The second definition comes with an exemplary anecdote. My mom connected it to her journey with motherhood at the same time my grandmother was on her journey with Cancer. I know it was tough, the beginning of a new life (my mom’s one and only child) and the end for my grandmother (she had started undergoing treatment).
This anecdote makes the meaning and connection they shared during this time that much more of a special significance behind the name. More than anything, my name yields sentimental value. This also brings me much more of a life long lasting connection to my grandmother.
My Childhood Experience:
I didn’t always like my name. I didn’t even think it was cool. I yearned for a simpler name.
Something that did not require a long-drawn-out backstory. Something like Victoria, Bianca, or Simone. Weird right?
I have always been shy growing up so I just wanted something that wouldn’t draw a lot of attention. I even went as far as telling my mom as a kid, that when I grew up, I would change my name. I mean after hearing mention of Journey the rock band, Journey to The Center of The Earth, and going on a journey a million times a year as a kid you might reconsider too.
I finally told my name about the name puns and in true fashion she said, “That’s all they could come up with?” She said Journey to The Center of The Earth was a dumb movie…to be fair I never seen that movie either. I am pretty much in a clueless bubble because I still have not been to the shoe store Journey’s either.
The nicknames my family called me were very simple, sweet, and honestly funny. My mom and grandma had wanted people to call me Joy, but it never stuck. Everyone referred to me as: Journey, Journ-Journ (I think it is cute), JJ (my personal favorite), Bourney (eh?), and J-Lo (only my mom called me that and you would have to ask her why).
Overtime, as a kid I would get used to the name little by little. I preferred a nickname most times because it was playful and not serious. When someone said my full name, I would feel like it was too much, or I was about to get in trouble.
I cannot pinpoint exactly when I became completely comfortable with my name. I would probably say I was at least eighteen when I fully started to embrace it. I realized I had been around so many people with overused popular names that they were not memorable, and I wanted to be the person with a unique name you would never forget.
Eve’s Bayou is The Origin Story:
There are so many things that go into choosing a name. The process of choosing my name was no different. The story goes back to a complicated narrative from a movie released on November 7, 1997.
You might have heard of it and then again you probably have not. The movie is Eve’s Bayou. The movie has a star-studded cast: Jurnee Smollett (my namesake), Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Megan Good, and Debbi Allen among other successful actors.
Now I would not be doing my due diligence if I did not tell you that there may be some spoilers at the top of this hill so brace yourself as we go up to a higher altitude.
Ironically, the movie takes place in Louisiana, which is where my mom’s family is from originally. My grandma is from Winnsboro, Louisiana to be exact. Winnsboro is just a short fifteen minutes of four hours by car to New Orleans.
The movie does not take place in a specific town, instead it is referred to as “rural Louisiana.” There are so many “coincidental events” that surround my birth that will be addressed in a future post, but for now we will stick to the confines of the ones surrounding my name. The tale begins with a curious, yet peculiar child named Eve.
Eve’s Bayou can best be described as a coming-of-age story set in the 1960s through a ten-year-old girl named Eve (Jurnee Smollett). She comes from one of those families that look good on the outside, but behind closed doors it’s chaos. Eve discovers this for herself allowing the thick veil of naivete to fall with each transgression.
Eve uncovers her father’s infidelity which leads to the destruction of the “perfect” family structure as she once knew it to be. Her father is Dr. Louis Batiste, a man who is loved by all, especially the ladies (married or not). Eve tells her older sister Cicely (Megan Good) about her father stepping out on the family who dismisses the tale.
Unfortunately, that is the least of Cicely’s worries because she is in a Freudian complex with her father (Samuel L. Jackson). I must offer a trigger warning…this part of the movie is most difficult to digest, and it is unclear or sort of left open to interpretation on whether the moment in question took place because of how the scene was portrayed. Even so, every character in the movie is a victim suffering from some sort of despair or denial causing issues to go from bad to worse.
The main takeaway from the movie is told to the audience from the beginning: “The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old.” Eve takes responsibility for the death of her father because although she did not directly pull the trigger on the gun that killed him, she did have a hex placed on him for the pain he caused the family.
I know you are thinking this is one hell of a movie, with such rich conflict, that does not bring forth a happy go lucky association. I go back and forth with my mixed feelings about it which has caused me to have only seen the movie in its entirety about twice (once as a child and another as a young teenager). I cannot ignore the movie forever because it has sentimental value, pop cultural impact (think Beyoncé’s Lemonade film) and Louisiana culture all weaved into its context.
I have plans to watch it again as an adult with my mother to truly dissect the heaviness of it especially after the rollercoaster of emotions this blog post took me on. This has all been a part of my personal discovery and healing journey. Overall, Eve’s Bayou is a Black independent success that I am proud to be attached to thanks to my namesake’s film debut as Eve.
The movie is now twenty-four years old, as we are a year and a few days apart. I identify most with how my mom chooses to look at what Eve’s character represents over the emotional turmoil the movie takes the characters and audience through.
When my mom saw the actress who played Eve she was blown away. She saw her name was Jurnee and thought that was a peculiar kind of name because she never heard of it before. This little girl began to cause the neurons and synapses to start moving at rapid fire in my mom’s brain.
My mom described Eve as having a “spitfire” personality. Now before anyone gets lost, the consensus I got after scouring the World Wide Web was a person with a quick temper, highly emotional, and fierce personality. This was specifically attached to a woman, and I could identify although I’m in the process of working on myself…but as for my younger self, a word forum site said, “you do not want to be on her bad side.”
The more positive association I found was that spitfires are very honest and tell the truth making some people uncomfortable around them. I can relate because I have an uncanny ability to read people whether they are talking or not…this comes from a variety of factors. My mom recalls seeing this spitfire personality when Eve was cursing at Cecily to “get out the damn bathroom.”
She was laughing as she told me the events surrounding the naming process. She just knew that her little girl was going to have a fire like Eve. I would have to agree, and I am sure the people who have got the pleasure to know me best would most certainly say the same.
My mom brings a lighter side to it with humor that is unmatched. I am thankful to her and my grandmother both for giving me a name that holds so much weight. Eve’s Bayou holds a legacy of Black identity in Louisiana, and I hope to build a legacy just as great to leave behind.
Jurnee and Journey:
Jurnee Diana Smollet was born October 1, 1986. She started her career as a child actress with roles in Full House and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper amongst other popular sitcoms. She is most known for her recent roles in Lovecraft Country and Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of A Marriage Counselor.
Jurnee and I have few similarities in real life. I must admit that I do not keep up with my namesake as one might think. I check up on her once in a blue moon when my curiosity strikes me.
We are both of mixed origins, although I simply identify more with my dominant Black ancestry. She has siblings that include two brothers while I am an only child. We are a little over ten years apart with her being thirty-five, while I am twenty-three.
Jurnee is also a Libra. She was married to a musician, Josiah Bell (they married in 2010 and divorced in 2020) and they have one son Hunter who was born on Halloween (that was supposed to be my original birth date…but I was late). The biggest similarity is our passion and desire to work in creative non-traditional careers.
My mom liked Jurnee’s name but preferred the original spelling. My mom considers my namesake a success, considering she has had a career since 1991 and is still getting great roles. I would have to agree she really sold me in Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
Ultimately, I must say that everything worked out for the best with Jurnee and me.
Final Thoughts On This Journey:
Writing this post has taken me through a whole lot of emotions…some new and some old. I had intended to write this post sometime in the future, but after the puzzling conversation at my job I knew it had to come sooner. I wanted to release this post last Sunday (February 27, 2021) but it required much more work and research than I thought.
This research included an informal interview with my mother to help me fill in the blanks to the origin story of my name. This post brought us even closer because it has been years since we rehashed the story in its entirety because there are so many moving parts, and it involves my grandmother’s passing which sometimes feels like it was just yesterday. After much sitting and discussing, I was finally able to get it done.
I never wrote a piece that included my grandmother before, but I am proud to finally bring her into my creative space. This must be one of my hardest pieces to write and share with the world knowing I feel so protective over it. Fortunately, I have been learning that vulnerability is a powerful asset to your writing because it makes people feel and it makes your work more real.
According to data on Data Analyzer from data collected in 2020, my name is the 298th most popular girl name. That is a long way from Emma, Olivia, and Ava if you ask me. My name has a little seasoning to it but relax this is all in good fun.
All in all, I am proud of my name. I would not choose another. I am owning it right here and right now on my own terms.
Journey is me. This name speaks to my creative freedom. I am extraordinary.