It was a sweltering Connecticut summer afternoon, 1984, when I was born unto David and Nancy Kincheloe, their first born. And my mother, having so lovingly grown and begotten me, also dreamed up the name for me, the thing that would be spoken over my existence for the rest of my days. It needed a classic air, nothing too complicated. Biblical was a bonus, more points for the translation: Princess, if I do say so myself. So was I titled, Sarah Ann Kincheloe, a name my mother was sure was befitting of me and only me.

In Overland Park, Kansas, I attended my first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Boyd’s class. I found my desk: Sarah K. I didn’t realize it wasn’t customary to label it this way. I made eyes at a named Kelly—just Kelly, though. Not Kelly J. Then I met another Sarah, her name tag just like mine: Sarah L. It all became clear. Sarah was a name befitting of someone else as well.

“ …for the first time ever, I had a distinguishing identity.”

From kindergarten on, I was never anything but Sarah K. Once, there were two Sarah Ks, and we were relegated to Sarah 1 and Sarah 2, and I’m not ashamed to say I fought for that number one slot. Middle school and high school were much the same, though teachers were less concerned about keeping us straight in class and I could tell which students were addressing me based on if they were my version of “Mean Girls” or not.

College brought slight relief and reinvention. There were two other Sarahs in my direct friend group on campus. We dressed as ice cubes for Halloween: Sarah3, to be exact. There was none of the Sarah K., Sarah M. or Sarah S. business. Our peers called us by our last names, like a real gang of collegiate coeds. But that was easier for Sarah Miller or Sarah Snodgrass. I was Sarah Kincheloe. Very quickly “Kincheloe” became “Kinch,” and for the first time ever, I had a distinguishing identity.

I will never forget the first time I met Trevor’s family. It’s funny now, as I actually became his wife, but back then, I was only confused. I walked into the dining room: grandmother, cousin, sister. “Everyone,” Trevor says, “this is Sarah.” A collective, “Ohhhhhh… ” wound around the room, followed by the meeting of eyes.

Today, I am the fourth Sarah Noel in my husband’s immediate family. I dropped the Kinch, became Sarah once more, and found that if we used our middle names, the four Sarah Noels were easily separated. (Thus the byline.) In adulthood, you don’t encounter many “Sarah N.” scenarios, but if you’re bored at a dinner party of guests, aged 30 or above, throw your voice and call for “Sarah,” and count how many of us turn our heads.

I share this history of anonymity due to oversaturation because, for me, Sarah has been so commonplace, so ordinary, that I just assumed sometimes people called me “Sarah” as a guess. They weren’t wrong about their odds of getting it right, you know?

But since moving to the mountains, a new phenomenon has occurred—a baffling, unbelievable thing: No one knows my name. I have one of the most popular names in the history of multiple generations, dating back to the days of Abraham, a name shared among various cultures and regions, a name that certainly belongs to someone else that you know, and yet I have run for the hills and accomplished what the deepest of mountain people could only hope for: pure anonymity, at least as a moniker goes. I am often identified by such honorable labels as “Trevor’s wife,” “Iris and Edith’s mom,” or “that lady with the fluffy dog.”

Is it small-town living? Does everyone look familiar, so no one actually remembers anyone? Is it because the headshot I have in here is truly horrible and my face doesn’t go with my name? (Really, I keep meaning to change it.) Is it reading my name but rarely saying it out loud some audio-visual misconnection, perhaps? Maybe the thin mountain air depriving us of our memories and clear thinking! It’s a recall thing!

From a writerly standpoint, I am interested in the pure irony. I grew up surrounded by so much “Sarah” that it never really fully belonged to me. Now it has vanished, left me altogether, and I’m wondering what to do at this crossroads. Is this a Phoebe Buffet moment, the opportunity to change my name to Princess Consuela Banana Hammock? (Now the “Friends” fans will remember my name!) In fact, if you see me out and about and you can’t come up with what to call me, forget the most obvious guess (Sarah); let’s just use Princess Consuela.

The Princess part is pretty close, after all.