For some strange reason, when I got married, I dutifully switched over everything--except my passport. Let's not talk about the fact that I haven't been out of the country in over 3 years.... but I didn't switch it. When my sister in law moved to Scotland, I knew the time had come to make the big change.
Still, I waited. I wasn't rushing in to change my passport. Though I was longing to see her--to hit the open air and land at her doorstep--I hadn't done the one thing I needed to do in order to make that happen. But finally the time came.
I went into the post office and asked to make an appointment for my passport... they had something available that same week. For some reason, this disappointed me internally as I accepted the appointment they gave me. When I showed up, let's say that they were less than organized; they weren't sure which form I needed, their camera was broken, and I was simultaneously thinking of running from the building screaming "FREEEEEEEEEDOM" Braveheart style.
It didn't help that at the point of my greatest confusion in the post office, a random woman approached me to let me know that when she had married and changed over her own passport, the government called her to let her know how legally her name wasn't actually changed....
I was upset about giving up that little piece of paper that bore my maiden name. It wasn't really a secret by that point. In fact the night before I turned to my husband and said, "The last piece of my former self disappears tomorrow." It was so hard, but I went to the UPS store, got my new picture, called the applicable department to find out what form I needed, and forked over the amount of money to ensure that my passport would be processed.
It's been years since anyone has called me "Ms. Nichols" but somehow it felt like I was really "Mrs. Criswell" that day in the post office. Ms. Nichols died with the swipe of the pen two years ago and walked down the aisle with her man in hand as a Mrs. Why then this feeling of loss...
The funniest part was that I was doing all of this to go and see my sister in law in Scotland, who didn't change her name on her passport when she married. Instead she opted to carry around her marriage license. I could have done that. But I couldn't do it.... I wanted to dissolve that piece of myself, but it was still hard.
I have written about the hardships and joys of taking your husband's last name--and it's certainly a name I am very proud of--but to revisit that old name, well, it made me feel sentimental. It made me think of all the things that came before my husband, my fiancee, my boyfriend.... everything else that came before.
And there it went; in an envelope to the government and beyond to be returned to me as a new person. That was it--the last piece of "single me."