What's In a Name?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So, Tyler and I spent an exciting Saturday morning in the DMV this past weekend-- I needed a license with my new name. It was actually quite a seamless process, though not my preferred way to spend a Saturday morning...or any morning for that matter. So, I sat in line, documents in hand, until number 243C was called. I walked up, handed over my forms, my marriage license, and alas...my driver's license. The last piece of identification that still identified me as Kathryn Way. I had my new picture taken and waited to be called on again. This time by my new name, "Kathryn Grassmeyer."

Now this is nothing new, going by Grassmeyer. Though I've taken my sweet time getting everything legally changed, I've still gone by it elsewhere. Everyone at school knows me as Kate Grassmeyer, my insurance, my bank account...it's been Grassmeyer for months now. But once I changed my Social Security number, I had to change my Passport, and lastly my license.

There was something strange about completing that last step. Walking out of the DMV, I had a sudden identity crisis. "Who am I? My name is really Grassmeyer? This is my husband? I'm married??? I'm not a 'Way' anymore??" It's hard to grasp...legally, there is no longer Kathryn Way. "But I AM Kathryn Way," I think. Don't get me wrong, marriage is great. We've had a great year and an especially great summer. I love my husband and I'm so excited for everything that's in store for us. But the changes aren't without its challenges.

There's so much in a name... First, I'm from a huge family. I have seven brothers and sisters and collectively, we're the Way Kids. With my last name, you know who my family is. "Oh, you're Andy Way's daughter!" I dropped my middle name with the change, so I gave up Woodward, which is also my grandmother's middle name and my great grandmother Mimi's maiden name. Being "The Woodwards" has always been a special thing between my Grandmother and I. But that's gone too...

I always knew growing up that I would take my husband's name. I thought nothing of it and I was more than happy to tell everyone that I was Kate Grassmeyer in the first weeks after we were married. And I don't regret it for a second. I'm happy to be known as "Tyler's wife." There's just an adjustment that I didn't expect. Your association changes with marriage. The family I'm now linked to is Tyler; not my parents or siblings, but my husband. It's not that I'm abandoning my family or am no longer a part of them (I'm not the first one to get married, by the way), but the family I'm a part of is now the family I'm starting with Tyler. And as awesome and exciting as that is, when you spend 24 years as one thing, it takes more than a year to change that association. I'm still learning to say goodbye to the main association of being "Andy's daughter" to being "Tyler's wife."

So, what's in a name? Everything. True, I'm the same person I was six days ago; I still love ice cream, still have that scar on my left first finger, still stop talking mid-sentence to sing along to the radio. But it's also my past...my family, my geneology, my personality. And now it's my future. But as Kathryn Way Grassmeyer.

Funny, you would've thought this would have all gone through my head as I was standing at the altar last summer... But no, it was handing over my license at the DMV last week.

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