I look down at the last line of our marriage application, where you declare whether you stick wit’ the name you came wit’, or start over with another. My independent resolve starts to crumble as I begin to question what the name I’ve spent 30 years attached to really represents. I know you may be reading this thinking I probably need therapy, and don’t worry, I’m way ahead of you.
On a lighter note, my mother’s side of the family is great. Dysfunctional, sure, but very loving. Our mother and grandmother were the task force who really raised my (full) brother and I. They shared with us story upon story of the rich history of our relatives with light and joy. This side treated our very existence as though we were gifts from the heavens and generally gave us the feeling that they would lay down in traffic to protect us from harm.
Deep in my soul, I feel connected with my mother’s family, going back for generations. I look over at my husband, sitting next to his father. He calls both parents weekly, and I have been lucky enough to feel an immediate connection to both of them from the moment we first spoke. His mother is a tough cookie but I hear nothing but that same love and protection for her son that I heard in my grandmother’s voice for my brother and I. His father is a real “live and let live” guy, and reminds me more of a brother than a father figure. I have met a few parents of boyfriends I’ve had along the way, and these are the first that I have felt an immediate connection with. I fell in love with his family, who love and support him wholly. My husband and his family represent love, support, genuine kindness and a functional approach to relationships that is new and wonderful for me. A stark contrast with the fractured relationships, control, and conditioned, painful confusion that have come along with my given last name.
It has only struck me now, how healing joining a family or starting a new one can be. In spirit, I will always belong to my mother and grandmother’s family, but never had been presented with the option to choose. As I look over my new last name typed in fresh typewriter ink on the form, I mentally try on my new name, the fresh start washes over me, I am surprised at how naturally it fits. I am Alexandra Norris.