|I fully advocate for winter weddings.|
I got married December 2014. I always thought I'd marry someone other than an American. I pictured myself with someone from another continent, eventually earning duel citizenship, taking my children across multiple countries to visit their very different sets of grandparents. For someone with my life history, it seemed inevitable.
But I married someone from Pennsylvania. Turns out this is easier. And he's an amazing partner.
But I didn't change my name. Despite the convention. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Millennial women change their names. Despite a religious background avidly suggesting that women must change their names to observe interpretations of "submissiveness." I didn't change mine.
I started thinking about this in Cambodia. Around the same time I began experiencing gender discrimination and started to critically engage with issues of gender. I eventually embraced the term "feminist" because I believe in the equality of the sexes, I believe I should have equal opportunities, believe I should be paid the same, and I believe childcare should be affordable.
But that's not the whole reason I kept my name. I kept it because first, I love my name. It's a funny sounding Eastern European name. It's only two syllables and fits neatly on visa entry and exit forms. It has a good ring with my first name. Secondly, I've called 15 places home (upgraded to 16 since Liberia). You only have to read a few posts here to know that my story is complex. I don't have a place I call home. I'm a nomad. My life is full of change and uncertainty.
But I've always had my name. I have an amazing family who have shared that adventure and that name. And if everything else is changing around me and I myself seek change, well...I need the consistency of that Eastern-European name. My name gives me a comforting sense of grounding and home.
Besides. I didn't marry a "Smith." I would have upgraded to a three-syllable funny sounding Germanic name with a "z" in the middle. People occasionally ask how my partner feels about my decision. My partner decided his family name was important to him and I didn't ask him to change it. He extended the same courtesy to me.
This is one story of how being a nomad affects you in unexpected and surprising ways. This story deserves to be told because there's no shame in having an abnormal life abroad. There's no shame in choosing your name, or choosing not to change your name. There's no shame in naming your needs, or the fact that your needs are different from other global nomads. It's a process to learn to be comfortable with yourself, your name, and your calling. I'm on that journey everyday. And I'm happy to be on that journey with an funny Eastern European name. While my Germanic-named partner tags along.