Not Just a Name
After over five months of marriage, this week I feel like I've just entered into a new stage in my life - I got a new name. We've been married for almost half a year, but not much has changed until now. Unless you count the fact that in over a month I've haven't slipped on a "my boyfriend" - not even once - and I no longer giggle when I hear him say "my wife."
It took me five months to get my name changed because of the absurd amount of hoops one is required to jump through to accomplish the feat. It started by waiting three months for Jamaica to send our marriage certificate. Three months! Then came the adventure of filing the name change petition at the county courthouse. I love the legal system: you have to do this exact thing, exactly as we want it or we'll refuse it, but we can't tell you anything about it. They won't reveal which form it is you have to fill out because "that would be giving legal advice". (I've heard this phrase many times lately.) After the fun of solving that mystery, cut to me asking if I should expect to be contacted in a few days or weeks. The lady at the counter laughs... My petition was returned six weeks later because I was missing "proof" that the name change wouldn't be detrimental to any other person. Of course. So how do you prove such a thing without getting a sworn statement from every living human on earth? ...brilliant... I now know the notary at my local bank on a first name basis. The red-tape seemed endless. Finally, after two months, the county court approved my petition. The newspaper ad that I was required to post to notify the world of my name change is by far the most preposterous requirement. Note to newlyweds: GET A LAWYER. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME UNLESS YOU NEED A HOBBY. After visiting the Social Security Administration, armed with every single legal document pertaining to me in any way and both my parents' social security numbers and vital signs, I received a new social security card. I'm trying not to think of the approximately 300 other establishments I need to work with to propagate this change throughout my life. But I have a social security card, so it's official. I don't know why, but now I feel married.
The new name will take some getting used to, but I'm planning on having it for the rest of my life so I have time. Much of the aggravation was caused by my decision, made after a good deal of deliberation, to replace my middle name with my maiden name. Simply taking your husband's last name, what 90% of married American women do, is relatively easy to accomplish. (This traditional route, by the way, is slowly dropping in popularity while doing what I did is becoming more common.) So why put myself through the headache of changing my middle name? Good question...
Part of my decision came from the slightly-feminist mini-me on my shoulder who's been whispering things to me about losing my identity and succumbing to male dominance. Although I try not to listen to her, it's not hard to view the tradition, unfairly burdened upon women only I might add, as changing of ownership from father to husband. Yeah, that mini-me is quite opinionated. So, that's the whole modern woman thing. But more importantly, my last name is part of me. I've been known by the same name for thirty-one years. I'm not able to change it without a good deal of contemplation. There's a part of me that feels a kind of reverence for our family name, not because of personal experience, but because of the history. I wasn't fortunate enough to know many of the Morgans I see in faded black and white photos, but I hear the pride in my father's voice when he speaks of them. The story of the Morgans was always so much bigger than what I experienced first hand. Even though I appreciate being given my middle name out of pure love, (thanks, mom!) it's being replaced by a legacy I couldn't part with. It seems to be a compromise that gives me the best of both worlds. I'm confident I won't regret my decision, especially when we begin our own family and the entire household shares a last name - something I wasn't fortunate enough to experience.
So, please excuse me while I practice writing my new signature. I've done this before. Only last time I was in junior high and Tom Cruise didn't know I planned on taking his last name. And this time I get to share a name with the man I love.
Interesting article: The Last Name Debate for the Modern Woman