Monday, September 29, 2008

Changing My Name

I’m becoming Brandi Brown again. For the past four years, I’ve been Brandi Rhoades, but it’s just never quite fit.

When Brian and I were considering marriage, I intended to keep my birth name. Then we started talking about having children. Let’s face it: naming our children Brown Rhoades is just inviting ridicule into their lives. What to do?

When you’ve previously thought you wouldn’t have children, these discussions are fun and academic, but once you know you’re going to have a babe, they become more serious.

Somewhere in the midst of those conversations came a discussion of “family.” Brian and I have pretty radical ideas overall about what constitutes a family. Gay and lesbian couples. Single parents. Grandparents. Older siblings raising younger ones. Polyamory. We’re really open...when it comes to other people.

As it turns out, our family looks pretty fucking suburban.

We’re a nuclear family unit with 2 cats, a mortgage, soccer nets in the backyard. So when we were having this discussion somewhere in early 2004, when I was thinking of giving up my life as a radical because it was chaotic, Brian brought up the idea of family. If we all have different names, what does that suggest? Does it suggest we’re not really a family? Does it create problems and questions where none should exist? And why was I clinging to “Brown” anyway?

Brown is a common last name. In fact, the website of that name is home to a wedding planner, and I’ve heard rumors there’s a porn star with the name as well. Plus there was that girl on the Mickey Mouse Club when we were little.

Despite my current relationship with my dad, I didn’t grow up with him. I didn’t see him much growing up. And Brown hasn’t been my mother’s name for decades.

I toyed briefly with the idea of using Lambert or Snowden, two other family names that have more meaning to me. Brian and I talked about both using Dawson, which we got by playing around with the letters of Brown and Rhoades.

In the end I bought into the idea that it doesn’t matter what my name is; I know who I am.

Only – it does matter.

Names are important. They speak to who we are, and in the case of last names, we live in an area where having different last names indicates that we’re radically different from everyone around us.

Now that I’m returning into the feminist fold, I’m returning to Brown as well. I’m Brandi Brown. I always have been.

And as for my children, they’re becoming very attached to Rhoades-Brown.

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