Dropping Names

In less than one week, I will have a new name. Maybe for some brides-to-be, it’s no big deal or maybe they’ve always dreamed of being Mrs. so and so. Me, not so much. I remember being a child in elementary school who knew nothing about what I wanted in life except that I wanted my MTV and curly spaghetti noodles, but I knew one thing that I certainly didn’t want, and that was to grow up to be a Mrs. so and so. As a young awkward miss know-it-all with braces and ill-fitting acid wash denim, I mused at how strange it was that women just up and dropped their names and took on a man’s name. It wasn’t that I was some mini feminist tot, it was simply that it just didn’t make logical sense to me. “Well, why doesn’t the man change his name? Why is it always the woman who has to compromise? What is this 1880? And why didn’t Bianca drop ‘Jagger’ after they divorced?” That was me at 10 years old. But that was still me at 17 years old. At 24 years old. At 31 years old. I asked, pondered, wondered, and contemplated a lot as a child. Still do.

So legally and principally changing my last name is a huge deal, especially huge for someone who not only didn’t think it right to take a man’s name but as someone who didn’t even want to marry in the first place. I was once told by a wise elder “You say you never want to marry, but I have a feeling that you will fall hard in love with someone in due time, and you will marry.” And that’s the thing, all these years, I had never fallen hard in love with someone, I had never really known the kind of love I share with Grant, so I was making decisions about my love life when I didn’t yet know what real I-want-to-grow-old-with-you love was all about. Now I know and have this type of love, and so I am happy to share a family name with Grant because at the start and end of the day, Grant is my family, more so than many blood family members I have. I am proud to pronounce his name as my own to others. I feel lucky to be a part of his family who have welcomed me with such heartfelt open arms. His dad truly makes me feel like his daughter. And I am proud to have a mother-in-law, who like my own biological mother and most of the women in my life (family and friends), is a beautiful bundle of strong/bold/funny/intelligent/tender/loving/no-nonsense all wrapped up into one. Strong women are the kind of women I gravitate toward most, so it’s only fitting that Grant’s mother is now a part of my life.

Still, it’s going to take some time. I know there will be times in the beginning when I’m going to say or write my name as I’ve always known it. Despite the fact that my current last name comes with baggage (in the form of an evil stepfather), it’s been my name all these years, my identity, so naturally there’s going to be a period of mourning. I’ve also always been the Asian girl with a non-Asian last name, and somehow that’s always suited me just fine. I remember working virtually with someone in L.A. over the course of a year, and when we finally met a year later, he told me he had visualized me the entire year as blonde-haired and blue-eyed. I got a kick out of that. I quite liked surprising people. I’ve also oddly been frequently called my both by first and last name as though my last name was also my first name, and it grew on me. So I will miss that too, but not even close to the peace I will have sharing a name with my life partner. Now, my only concern is what if I win that sweepstakes with my current name . . .

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