So, I haven’t been getting name change questions a lot. Most people I run into are connected to me via some online community where I post things, and so they already know my spouse-creature took my last name, instead of the other way around. When they don’t know, and I end up telling them, the response is overwhelmingly positive. But there are one or two that have been kind of bizarre.
For instance: a woman overheard me telling someone else, gasped, and asked, “Isn’t that illegal?”
I replied, “No… no, it isn’t,” eying her with that why-are-you-butting-into-my-conversation look.
“Well it SHOULD be!”
A younger Story might have been outraged. I just giggled and told her, “Maybe you should go write your congressman.”
The best positive response came from my cousin’s grandmother, who is in her 90’s. When my aunt reintroduced us (the last I had seen her, I’d been a very very little girl) and explained how my spouse and I had arranged it, her face lit up in a delight that washed out the sun.
Neither of these encounters happened particularly recently, but the hour’s early, and while cleaning I dug up a congratulations card addressed to the happy couple using Mr. & Mrs. his-old-last-name, and I realized that my husband’s other relatives had just assumed, because “that’s what one does.” That made me giggle, too. Like I’d pulled some kind of vast trick on society, and stole the candy of my identity from the grinding wheels of propriety. Like I was wearing green and orange mismatched socks under my shoes, and I was the only one who knew.
Because I’m the only one who can really know how attached I am to that family name, “Boyle,” and how strong and solid it made me feel to offer as a gift to another a share in that identity, and how thrilled I was that that gift was accepted.