My father named me despite my mother’s protests; she’d carried the name for all her life and never liked it. I grew to hate it too.
“Is it possible to change your first name?” I started asking when I was nine, but I wasn’t sure what other moniker I might adopt. Heather appealed to me as it was reminiscent of the moors in England where my family hailed from, but when I met a girl named Heather who I didn’t like, I looked for another name. Ali, short for Allison, became my next desired name. I even wrote a book about her.
I never did change my first name, but at the age of nineteen, when I first got married, I acquired a new surname, and with it the hope for a new life. Being married, I was sure, was an official step into adulthood and away from childhood struggles. I exchanged a mundane family name for one that sounded more regal. I was a new person. Well, maybe for the honeymoon period, but of course, I was still the same, and the distance between me and my past had not lengthened.
Marrying again brought a new surname, erasing the mistakes of my first entanglement. Under this name, I became a mother, completed my degree, and launched a career. I liked this identity. It connected me to people I loved, and felt good. I wore the name years beyond the divorce.
When I met Thor, and the discussion of marriage came up again, I had to make a choice – retain the name belonging to both my ex-husband and my children, or embracie a new identity. Two weeks after marrying, I would be entering teacher’s college, so decided to change my name to honour this life change.
As a woman, changing my name is akin to establishing landmarks in the journey of my life.