Same Name–A Lyric Essay

Jessica Williams Same Name

by Jessica Willingham

I used to hate my name until I saw it in her mouth.

But then I stopped feeling bored and felt more apart.
Jessica, Ashley, Britney, Stephanie, Jennifer.
Rainbow key chains, different but all the same.
Underneath we all want ourselves.

Blood is thicker than water when you get wet just the same.

We shoved tongues in strawberries every summer, scratch and sniff scribbled outside the lines. I loved dresses with pockets and, suspenders, spoonfuls of cherries. Once my cousin traced the lines on my face so I could fall asleep. Over my eyebrows, nose and lips. In circles across my cheeks.

She pet my eyelashes and even then I understood.

I don’t think I need to brief you on the complexities of feminine relationships. Our sense of competition is like sand, ingrained in the hems of our jeans, crusted in the depths of our shoes, sprinkling out of the car door when I slam it shut in the parking lot. I assume it’s a competition. I guess it could be sexual tension, layered in obnoxious neon colors like a ‘90s craft project, filing a plastic bottle strung around my neck until it’s heavy enough to choke me. I’m equal parts energized and annoyed. Best friend necklaces, because, you see, we’re shaded in the same colors: hot pink, lime green, lotus purple.
Jessica, Jessica, Jessica.

She loves to rollerblade. As a psychologist, she would call this a bid for connection with her inner child. The kid who gave blowjobs at 13 instead of just kissing in the park like a good girl, wearing a helmet and knee pads because your mother said so. Maybe she wants to be her, just for an afternoon. I’ve been to the year 2000, and everything was sparkles encased in polymer. Everything — our pens, our sandals, our body glitter — was gobbed in that gelatinous, multi-colored joy. There were two kinds of girls then: pale, baby pink and butterfly clips, midriffs, pop tunes, Mustangs. Then the girls with Japanese symbols on their t-shirts, coffee house colors, baggy pants and poetry. Do you remember?

I loved them all.

French kissing felt a million miles an hour to me. Maybe it’s love, I say. Or maybe I’m gay. Or maybe it’s just fuckin’ cool, she grins, pushing me over hard on my ass on the concrete and skating off in motion down the path.

I’m surprised how much I like it.
Jessica, Jessica, Jessica.

We still love sleepovers. We’re wide awake all night, but I feel like I slept over the decade. Bouncing, flouncing, pouting, practicing, practice, practice, practice makes perfect. Pancakes and Y2k and we love brunch to this day, just for the champagne kisses.

I have a picture of Kendall Jenner, Barbie Ken on my moodboard.
Something about high-brief bikinis smell rich to me.
And something in me still wants long hair, Malibu.
You, too? Come, let us go, then, you and I.
Girls just want to have fun.

Laguna beach, mascara tears, MTV, will-you-go-to-prom-with-me?
Waves crash just the same. Don’t we all get old except the sea and you and me
And the us that’s here, on the beach.
We’re the whole package, together. Best friends, two halves of a strawberry peach pit. With tiny buoys and plastic shoes and sunglasses, bottles of tanning lotion, suits we can peel off ourselves. Collector items. East bay or eBay, either way. We’re
In a box wrapped in plastic and out to sea.

And look at us now,
Wrapped up and warped in heat.
We’re drowning, wet in places we shouldn’t be.
Let us swim.
Let us swim.

Now my name is a white noise machine.
Jessica, Jessica, Jessica.


Jessica WillinghamJessica Willingham is a copywriter, journalist, and former editor at Bustle. She is a member of the Lighthouse Writers Book Project in Denver, Colorado. Her work can be found at and @jesswcreative.