I have trouble with names; not with spelling them, pronouncing them or even remembering them. My problem is simply this: I have trouble choosing names, particularly when it comes to my own.
I discovered this about myself several months before my marriage, during an innocuous conversation about thank-you notes with my soon-to-be husband.
What name do you want to put on the return address? he asked me innocently enough.
I hesitated for a few moments, feeling like a contestant on a TV game show about to give the wrong answer.
I think Ill just keep my own, if thats OK with you, I replied, uncertain. Had I just placed myself in double jeopardy? The problem was this:
For the first 29 years of my life I had lived with the last name of Hirshberg. In elementary school I got teased (Hirshberg is easily converted into Hershey Bar or Hamburger by an eight-year-old). In high school I was taunted (thats a Jewish name, isnt it?). Over the years, I had become both protective and proud of my name. It was a part of me that extended beyond my physical self into the world, but also did much to define my sense of self.
Yet now that I was joining lives with the man I loved, I knew I had to look at myself in new ways. I wanted to be a team player; really I did, so I gave the name change a few tries. I tried my new identity at work but felt so conflicted that at one point I actually had three different business cards, each with an alternative variation of our combined names.