Thursday, December 04, 2014

What's in a name?

So, as mentioned in my last post, I recently got married, and I decided to take my husband's last name. Really, anyone who reads this blog already knows all of that information. Sorry, but you can't have the last 30 seconds of your life back.

It was sort of a no-brainer for me (which, if you know the last name of my high school longterm boyfriend, is a funny thing to say) for a couple of reasons: 1) his last name is totally inoffensive, solid, and sounds fine with my first name (even comes from the same ethnic background) and 2) I figured it would/will make it easier when we have kids, all one last name, etc. I just didn't put that much thought into it, which is funny because when I was younger (as in, elementary school) I would always say that there was NO CHANCE I'd take ANY man's name! I was who I was and that was the end of the story! Plus, I loved my alliterative name. So when did that suddenly change? Or is that exactly WHY it happened - because when I married my husband all my blustering and passionate assertions regarding what I would or would not do went out the window?

Anyway, changing your name is a bitch, regardless of the reason you're doing it. I expected that. But what I didn't expect was the amount of sadness I'd feel as I moved through the process. I feel like I'm losing a big part of myself, which is so strange to me. I even changed my middle name to be my maiden name so that it wouldn't be gone forever. My dad was the only son in his family and my brother is the only son in ours, meaning that if my brother doesn't have kids (and, for the next generation, a boy), our last name is donezo (as far as our branch of the family tree goes, at least). There are plenty of other Barrys out there in the world. So it was important to me that it continue on in some way, even if just in my middle name. I do plan on sneaking it into at least one of my children's middle names though (starting that campaign now).

One would think that it doesn't really matter, but it does (which became news to me when I considered HOW exactly I would change my name). I felt strongly about my name. I loved the way it sounded. People frequently called me by my first and last name, which, in the case of Bridgets everywhere, is normally LARGELY unnecessary (unless you're my friend Katie in whose case 95% of your friends are named Bridget, Brigid, or some variation thereof). So I always felt like Bridget Barry was just who I was.

So now that I'm not, what does that mean? How much does it truly matter? What's in a name? It absolutely breaks my heart that to the US Government, this Bridget Barry has ceased to exist. Knowing that I'll be a parent in coming years and the amount of thought I have ALREADY given to my future children's names and how they sound with our last name, it breaks my heart to think about my parents when they named me. They gave me the name Bridget Barry, never thinking to themselves "Oh it doesn't really matter because she'll change her last name partway through her life anyway." So in a way, changing my last name felt like a betrayal of them. Like I was saying I didn't want to be part of their family anymore.

My brain hasn't caught up with my credit cards and social security number. When people ask what the name on the reservation is I still say "Barry" (and sometimes it actually is). I have yet to introduce myself with my new last name. I wonder how long it'll take for it to flow off my tongue? Don't even get me started on my signature.

This post is largely an exercise in navel-gazing but still...I guess I just wanted to see if anyone else felt the same way when they changed their last name? Did you feel like a small part of you was dying, like you were suddenly cut off from an old friend? Like it was cold outside and you forgot your jacket? It's so melancholy! And I'm being much more dramatic than is strictly necessary, but hey. I had a great name. My mom couldn't wait to get rid of her maiden name because it was awful to spell (which is why it is such a great Security Question answer). That wasn't the case for me.

A few of my girlfriends got married pretty quickly after college and it takes me a second now to remember their maiden last names - not long, but it takes a beat. Their married names are just who they are now in my brain, and I wonder how long it'll take for them to feel the same way about mine? Or if it will be harder given the previously mentioned alliteration?

It's just so strange how this feels like a loss rather than a gain. I didn't gain a new last name, I lost my old one. So here's to Barry. You were great and you served me well. Thank you.

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