It is becoming less and less common that people ask me if I was named after the movie star Eva Marie Saint. People used to ask me that frequently, but not so much anymore. I wasn’t named after her anyway; my name is a combination of Eva, which was my great-aunt’s name, and Marie, which was the name of my mom’s materal grandmother.
Technically, we’re not supposed to say that I was named after Eva, because in the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition you’re only supposed to name babies after deceased relatives. I’m actually not Jewish, but my mom’s father was, and his aunt was named Eva.
On my birth certificate, Marie appears as my middle name, but I ended up being called by both names, and so on many official contexts, I appear as “Eva-Marie.” My dad insisted that I be called by both names. Some songwriter friends of my parents even wrote a song about me, entitled “Eva-Marie.”
While I like the name, I now go by just Eva. First of all, it can be unwieldy for people to say both names, and I don’t want to nag them about using both. I also changed the pronunciation of Eva, to “Ava.” When I lived in Ecuador I became accustomed to being called “Ava,” so I just began introducing myself with that pronunciation, even after I returned to the States.