Everything I Realized When I Changed My Last Name
We — well, I — planned our wedding for 355 days exactly.
Both the wedding and the year leading up to it were incredibly dream-like. Even as I sit here today, just two months later, it all seems to have happened so very long ago.
The days flew by, were filled with fantastic parties, pretty shower dresses, blush and silver flower arrangements (blush and silver everything), champagne (often), smiles and, admittedly, a few tears.
In the weeks following my wedding, I became devoted to re-branding my business. I was excited and looking forward to diving in... and without the piles of wedding planning to-dos on my desk, I felt energetic and ready to work.
OK… re-branding. First things first: change my name: Bridget Drolshagen Chambers.
It seemed it should have been so easy — not to mention quite a relief — to drop "Drolshagen."
How tiring and monotonous it had become to begin every unfamiliar phone call with: “D (as in dog), R O L S ..."
It became so annoying letting various strangers play their one-sided guessing game that always began with, “Wow, long last name. What is its origin? Swedish?!”
Of course, I never wanted to be rude to said strangers, so I'd try to wow them with the very interesting fact that actually, Drolshagen was a town — in Germany!
Usually, I didn't even get the chance to impress upon them the riveting fact that the town had its own coat of arms, too, before realizing I had lost them.
Aye yi yi.
How confusing it had become to make dinner reservations under the slightly shortened moniker, “Hagen,” only to have my friends arrive at the restaurant looking for me under my real (much longer) name, and hence, never find me.
I used to tell my friends I couldn't wait to change my name. As my dating relationship with Ryan progressed to the point that marriage was an eventual certainty, I was downright excited to say goodbye to Drolshagen.
"Good riddance," I thought. Chambers is a writer's name. Chambers is a name people can pronounce — and respect. On the phone there will be no spelling necessary. It's Chambers, as in... Chambers.
But the truth is, I was little scared to legally change my name. When I stopped to think about it, I realized Drolshagen has been attached to me from the minute there ever was a me.
This three-syllable, German very long name has served as my lifelong faithful escort, and in some ways, it made me who I am.
Alphabetically, it sat me next to my first (and forever) friend on day one of kindergarten.
It was the largely-printed label on the back of all my extra-curricular t-shirts and it was the name I heard regularly yelled down the dormitory halls by friends I loved so much.
It was the name I would type on my small business copyright application and the signature I would neatly endorse on my very first rent check.
It is the title that ties me to my relatives and — more than that — it is the name that connects me to my dad. It is most special to me because of that.
All of a sudden, changing my name felt a little bit like that critical moment on the wedding day, when my dad kissed my cheek and guided me to my handsome almost-spouse and something inside me, if only for the slightest millisecond, felt like while I was gaining a beautiful beginning with the love of my life, I was losing something, too.
Memories a year in the making now fit tightly into a shoebox within the closet I share with my husband.
Inside the box, of course, are the beautiful heels that led me down the aisle.
Next to the shoes is our invitation, slightly wrinkled but still perfectly embossed with the major details of our big day.
Under the invitation is a special handkerchief, my lucky sixpence and my crinkled but still sparkling veil.
And, at the very bottom, a picture of the dapper groom and myself, completing the collection with the most important memory of all: the uniting of two, the uniting of us: Ryan and Bridget. Last name and all.
When Juliet asked Romeo, “What's in a name?” I think she was onto something.
Sure, names tie us to the things we know. They define who we are as children, and they connect us to our parents and families. They give us our greatest nicknames and provide us some of our best memories. But we are, certainly, much more than our names.
When we choose to marry, our names and lives may change a bit — just a bit. We are the lives we choose to live, we are the people we choose to be and we are the futures we choose to create.
This originally appeared on the author's personal blog.