I’ve had a lot of last names in my life.
Last Name #1 happened at birth, of course. 6 months later, my parents divorced, and for awhile I went by Last Name #2, which was my mom’s maiden name. 2 years later, my mom had remarried, and her new husband adopted me, giving me Last Name #3.
In 1998, I had moved away from home and hated my (adoptive) father and hated his name, so I needed a new one. My boyfriend and I didn’t want to get married at the time, but I wanted a new name fast, so I ended up taking his middle name as my Last Name #4. I got a lawyer and had my last name legally changed.
Through all of this, I had the same first and middle names.
In 2006, I separated from the man with Last Name #4. I had been going by “Issa” (not my original first name) for awhile at that point, and in 2006 I also chose an entirely separate-from-anyone-else new Last Name #5 for myself.
I didn’t get it changed legally, though.
I always meant to do it legally, but I never got around to it. Part of the reason was just laziness/forgetfulness. Another part is that I’m no longer 21 and struggling with identity. It just didn’t bother me as much to have a different name on “official” things than on personal things.
And the other part is that Last Name #4 was mine in a way that none of my family names had been. Yes, it was connected to a man, but I chose it, and I wanted it, and it was mine for a long time. When it’s gone, I am going to miss it.
But. It has finally started to bug me that my names don’t match up. My new name is real to me, and I have moments of confusion when I’m addressed by the old name. I’m also pregnant now, and I need for all of my official paperwork to match up before I give birth. The name on my child’s birth certificate needs to actually be my name.
So, this coming Wednesday, I’m headed to court to get my name legally changed. I hope that it all goes smoothly. I’m slightly concerned that they’ll balk at the fact that this is the second time I’m changing my name. I hope that I just have to fill things out and pay my money, and then it’ll be over.
I am a little nervous. This time, instead of just changing my last name, I’ll be changing my first name and dropping my middle name. These parts are extremely important to me. These are the parts that signal severing connections with my childhood family, although that’s another story. In any case, I’m happy to be moving on in this way, but it feels like a big step.
I can’t know for sure, of course, but this feels like the last time I will change my name. It feels like I’ve finally found my name that I will keep forever.