NY Deborah (nydeborah) wrote in namechange,
NY Deborah

The Name Game

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare

What's in a name? Numerologists believe that each letter in a person's name has a numerical value that reveals secrets of the
psyche and destiny of the person .

There comes a time in a woman's life when she must make a decision about her name. We are still living in a society that expects a woman to take a man's name when she marries. Oh, we'll accept a hyphenated name, or even a woman who keeps her maiden name, but by the time children come along we usually call her by her husband's name, whether she chooses it or not.

"To get a name can happen but to few; it is one of the few things that cannot be brought. It is the free gift of mankind, which must be deserved before it will be granted, and is at last unwillingly bestowed." - Samuel Johnson

I had a wonderful maiden name. Rich in history and ethnicity, unique in many ways. It was the only last name of its kind in the phone book, no small feat in a city as big as
New York.  My immediate family and I were the only human beings with that last name in the city, and I loved it.  Most people couldn't pronounce it, couldn't begin to know how to spell it and that was fine with me.

When I married, I followed tradition and took my husband's name. I liked it. It was much easier than my own, easy to spell and pronounce and it carried a vague, non-sectarian feeling; difficult to define, impossible to pigeon-hole. It lacked a certain flavor or implied character, but it was a nice, normal name.  It rolled trippingly off the tongue and there were even a few famous people with the same name.  I grew to feel at home in the bosom of that name.

When my first marriage ended, I kept my married name. I had a young child and I was determined to focus on her care and upbringing. Having the same name as her, even though I was no longer married, simplified things and added a level of normalcy and consistency to our lives. There was no confusion at school or with friends. We were both known by the same last name and it was good. 

I never thought I would marry again.  It really didn't enter my mind.  I was entirely focused on raising my daughter and enjoying my career.  I dated, of course, had some great friends and one or two deeper relationships, but nothing too serious.

"The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name." - Theodore Roosevelt

They say that when you are content and happy in your own life you become the most desirable to others.  And I thoroughly enjoyed the life I created for myself and my daughter.  I felt blessed; fortunate to have a clear purpose and to know that I made a difference in the world.    

Now I am married again. When Kevin came into my life I knew he was someone special.  He shares my love of music, literature, writing, comedy, art, and so many other interests.  He makes me laugh and I enjoy his company.  

Kevin feels strongly that I should no longer be using my ex-husband's name, and that's perfectly understandable.  I have to say goodbye to a name I've known and been known by for many years. Professionally and personally my name represents me to others.  

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous. - Voltaire

What is startling to me is a feeling of loss of identity as I file the necessary documents to change my name. I wonder if I'll remember to say my new name when I answer the phone. I wonder if people I work with will know whom people are talking about when they refer to me by my new name. I am feeling a bit unanchored, a woman without a name or at least without the one I've become accustomed to for so many years.   

It’s disconcerting, to say nothing of the complications and legal documents that need adjusting. Many institutions require a visit in person with numerous forms of identification and the original marriage certificate. The Department of Motor Vehicles is practically asking for a DNA sample and the promise of my first-born! 

"Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, 
Is the immediate jewel of their souls: 
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; 
But he that filches from me my good name 
Robs me of that which not enriches him 
And makes me poor indeed."
- William Shakespeare

 Isn’t it strange how we get attached to names? I know I’m so much more than my name yet it is still disconcerting to change it. Luckily, my new name is lovely. It’s easy to pronounce, easy to spell and easy to wear. Soon, it’s bound to be well-known, too. Kevin is a very talented writer and he’s working on some promising projects. 

 I’m sure I’ll get used to my new name very soon. Until then, don’t think I’m ignoring you if you call me by it and I look around to see who you’re talking to. “You talkin’ to me?”
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