February 8, 2012
Identity Crisis

I changed my name today.  

Probably shouldn’t go around publicizing my age, but I’ve had the same last name for 31 years.  Well, if we’re being technical, since 1986, since I’m partially adopted.  But that’s another blog post.

Anyways, that’s a long time to be someone.  I’m used to my last name.  I have a job where I have to sign my name a lot, like every note and prescription I write.  And I have a whole joke down regarding being a famous eighties child star’s cousin when people don’t know how to spell it.  And this new last name has so many more letters.

Our identities are really tied up in what we call ourselves.  Your family, where you come from, your connection to siblings and cousins—these things are taken for granted until suddenly you’re not a Sullivan or a Rodriguez any more.  My parents and brothers and sister have built up this self-deprecating mythology about our name, and now I feel like I’m not a part of that anymore.  And in some silly way, I thought that if I ever get published, I wanted to do it as the person I’ve always been, not under a new name I barely feel comfortable in.

So why did I do it then?  It’s the new millennium, people hyphenate and husbands take their wives’ names or they just never change them at all.  I could have just procrastinated forever, even though I promised myself I’d do it before our first wedding anniversary.  But it means a lot to my husband.  

And that’s what marriage comes down to, I think.  You can go on with your separate lives, personal bank accounts and individual facebook page and whatnot; it’s vital to maintain a sense of self in a process where you often feel like more of a unit than the unique snowflake you’ve been all your life.  I’m a strong chick, I’m always going to have my own retirement fund and checking account and I think shared FB pages are silly.  But I also recognize when to let go of that hyper-independence.  

I love my husband.  I know how much it means to him for me to have his last name.  So I waited in the social security office’s lobby, which smelled like Denny’s, for over an hour.  And he sat there with me, post-call from a twenty-six hour shift.

My husband loves me too.