Friday, January 16, 2009

My name is my name...

The other day, I received an e-mail from H - it read "I will go ballistic if someone gives me a shirt that says "Soon to Mrs. [TMS19]" I couldn't sleep last night and was worrying about the wedding and that was one of the things keeping me up." [redacted to maintain some anonymity](which is ridiculous, I know).

I laughed at this - I normally do. The fact that she was kept up at night because she feared that someone might just assume that she was taking my name is kind of funny. But that is H and that is in large part one of the reasons I love her. Now, H doesn't buck tradition just for the sake of being different. She isn't the kid in high school who comes back from summer vacation with a dye-job and black nail polish just to be different. Many of her stances on things wedding and marriage related are well thought out and articulated in a manner that I can't help but respect (if not always agree with) her position.

H is not taking my last name. She doesn't want it. "Keep it" she said. And I respect that. I am certain that some of this is born from the fact that she is the last of the line - her father passed away while she was young, and her mother has since re-married. She is the 'last of her kind' and she wants to preserve the name. The other part of the equation is more complicated and could probably ruffle some feathers of other married folk. I will definitely not give her thoughts on this due justice, but I'll try - H is fiercely independent and doesn't believe in the traditional construct of marriage. To borrow a phrase from "True Blood" - she is not "mine." Nobody is paying me a dowry to take her off her family's hands. She goes into this marriage on her own accord and her own terms. She has worked hard her entire life to make a name for herself and doesn't see the point in sacrificing her identity, which she has been forging for 30+ years, because tradition tells her she has to. While this may be what some people want, she wants none of it. What would you expect from someone who minored in women studies in college...right?

Naturally, I was skeptical at first. I am definitely more traditional than H. A lot of that, though, is born from the ideals about marriage instilled in me by my parents and the environment I grew up in. I am from suburban Chicago. My hometown is filled with WASPy children of baby boomer's families and their non-denominational Christianity and midwest value system. It is commonplace to assume that H would simply take my name and be happy with it. Honestly, I never considered it from her point of view...that's just the way I was raised.

Ultimately, its about identities. Her name and identity are hers and mine is mine - what is most important is the identity that we forge together going forward.

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