What’s in a name?

I married young—at the age of 21.  I come from a conservative, traditional family, so the decision to change my name was never really a question.  Of all the married couples I knew, almost all of the females had changed their name upon marriage.  So I, too, changed my name, without much thought to the matter.  It was exciting and I felt like an adult following in the footsteps of the cousins and siblings before me.  But, not too far into the marriage I started experiencing a bit of an identity “crisis.”  After the novelty wore off, and especially when on autopilot, I wouldn’t always respond to my new name.  For 21 years, I had been Gracie X and suddenly I was Gracie Y.  Who exactly is Gracie Y?  I don’t know, it just didn’t sound like me.  In my mind, I was still Gracie X, but people were calling me something else, my signature was strange, and I just missed being who I had always been. I also didn’t expect the baggage of the new name in a new town.  At the time, my husband’s family didn’t have a stellar reputation in the small town in which he grew up. (I was a kid, so why would I think of this, and marriage is supposed to entail riding off into the sunset, right?).  Anyway, I was unaccustomed to the bad vibes I got when people heard my last name. Continue reading