Monday, March 25, 2013

What's In A Name?

Around the time that I first met Katie in elementary school (before I forgot about her existence entirely for two decades), I was big on signing my name the way my granddad signed his. The point in the middle of the "W" was aggressive and much higher than the other two ends. In hindsight, my version of it looked pretty ridiculous, but I was proud of it. It was copying something, but it felt like I was doing my own thing. I was eight.

As I got older, my handwriting sort of became more like my dad's. I don't print in all caps the way he does, but when I take the time to sign my name properly, it looks an awful lot like his signature. And we have the same initials. In fact, my brother shares them, too, making it 60% of my family who can claim "EMW."

Then there's the fact that my middle and last name are my mother's first and last name. Connections everywhere.

But tomorrow, I will part with that name, though not the larger connections that have made me who I am for the last 32 years.

Tomorrow, Katie and I will become Katie and Erin Scot.

This has been quite the lengthy decision process. We've thought about it for months, and we just keep coming back to the same conclusion: We want to do this. Like, a lot. Obviously changing one's name is not something to be taken lightly, though I do feel plenty of women across this country do just that daily. Here's where I could go into the absurdly patriarchal nature of our society and how I feel it shouldn't be the automatic assumption that a wife will take her husband's name after marriage (or even that marriage requires a husband and wife, for that matter). But while that is what I believe, it's not for this post. I'm not changing my name because I hate my father. And I'm not not taking my wife's name because of my sense of not wanting to feel like I'm just someone else's property.

We are changing our names because, to put it as simply as possible, we are madly, deeply in love and the concept of having a family unit -- small though it may be -- that shares a name is incredibly compelling. Merritt will still have his father's last name, which is of course absolutely fine. That was his name at birth; we don't have a desire to change it. But the great thing here is that we didn't just randomly pick "Scot" because we relish the idea of saying, "No, just one 'T,' actually," for the rest of our lives. Nope. We chose it because it is Merritt's middle name.

So now we will go from "La Casa de Tres Nombres" to "La Casa Con Dos Apellidos, Pero Uno de Esos Apellidos Es Uno de Nuestros Segundo Nombres Tambien." Or something like that. My Spanish is a bit rusty.

Of course, so much of me will still be a Wilson. I might not sign the name anymore, but you can't change your DNA. The name change doesn't mean I'll stop devouring sunflower seeds or loving Grandma's pool or playing the hell out of a game of Nerts. I'll just be doing all these things as a Scot now.

There's a certain beauty to this that I keep forgetting to embrace because I am so overwhelmed with all the things that come with a name change: Social Security, new driver's licenses, new debit cards, the fact that my initials will now make me a paramedic, and more.

The beauty comes from the fact that, for most people, even if it is a knee-jerk patriarchally-minded reaction, changing one's name after marriage means something. It is not removing individual identity from either of us. We will still be us. But we will have one little extra thing that makes us that much more connected. It is just one extra bond to make. The covalent kind. We'll be sharing our electrons even more now.

I only hope we're ready to hear, "Oh, so you guys are sisters?" for the foreseeable future.


Apparently, Katie and I have given this subject enough thought (and discussion) that we even write about it in the same way. We wrote our posts simultaneously, though independently. You can find hers here.

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