There’s a wake at the DMV in midtown today. I’ll be there mourning my loss wearing a brightly colored top and extra lip gloss.
I had a big year in 2011, birthing both a book and a baby. Seeing as they both have my husband’s last name attached to them, I figured I should probably get around to officially changing my name to: First Name, Middle Name, Old Last Name, New Last Name.
The Social Security office was no problem: Have as many middle names as you like! But the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles decrees: Thou shalt have One First, One Middle, and One Last name. No hyphens.
What to do?
I grew up not-so-fond of my middle name. I felt like my first and last names were special, the kind of names that provoked people to remark, “I love that name!” or ask, “What kind of name is that?” My middle name seemed plain to me. It never seemed to go with my other names. Everyone already knew how to pronounce it. No one ever commented on it.
As I grew older, though, my middle name didn’t seem so plain. I started to like the rhythm it made with my first and last names. My husband even gave me his favorite nickname for me based entirely on that middle name.
What’s more, I’ve always felt a little sorry for people with no middle name. A middle name is like a fun secret you share with just the people in your family. And isn’t learning a person’s middle name an important step in the journey from Just-a-Friendship to Best Friendship?
So today I’m presented with a Sophie’s Choice. Do I lose the Old Last Name, which represents my Mexican heritage but also ties me to a father I have almost no relationship to? Or do I lose Middle Name, which I’ve come to love and appreciate almost as much as my first name?
In the end, I know my name is more than what’s printed on my driver’s license. To quote a far better writer than I:
What is Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
In other words, I gotta accept that no matter what, calling myself by one fewer name won’t change my me-ness one bit.
(Hey! I think I just passed the first stage of grief!)