Small Crises of Identity

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have a very boring surname; a single-syllabled yawn-inducer of a surname.

In fact over the years, one of the most exciting aspects of potential matrimony has been the thought that I would be presented with a perfectly legitimate reason to change it.

And yet here I am; spliced, ringed-up and officially wed, but without a single appellatory-alteration to show for it.

But, why? You might ask – as I myself do on a semi-regular basis…

Perhaps I should start with the why nots.

Well, it’s certainly not in any way because I’m a feminist (primarily because I’m not, I’m more a men-and-women-are-obviously-equals-ist if the truth be known), in fact it makes perfect sense when creating a family to give them the same surname, whoever’s it may be.

Having carried a child for nine months, squeezed it painfully out through a hole that is patently too small for such a purpose, fed it, worried about it, and taken marginally good care of it; I certainly don’t want to misplace it in the fresh produce aisle only to realise that the sole links the authorities may find to connect me to my offspring are our shared knock-knee affliction or the results of a long-winded DNA test.

I also can’t blame the lack of name change on a desire to keep the family surname alive – I am about as clannish as I am patriotic.

Could it be because the mere thought of the bureaucracy involved in changing my surname in a country where it is not the cultural practice chills me to my very vitals?

That plays a part, certainly; but in fact the primary reason I can’t seem to bring myself to alter my nominal identity is far more basic than any of the prior options:

It is simply the blinding realisation that having been plain old “me” for an entire thirty-six years, I find myself in no way inclined to get used to being someone different, even if it is solely in name.

So the very boring surname stays.

And the offspring – already facing confusion by being born to a British mother and a Romanian father, in Italy – will add to its international credentials by following the Hispanic habit of carrying its father’s surname, followed by its mother’s very boring one.

Poor creature.

This is Status Viatoris, finding out new things about herself every single day (none of them especially interesting, I might add) in Italy.

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20 Responses to “Small Crises of Identity”

  1. Exwageslavea Says:

    I had a fairly exotic and certainly un-English maiden name, which occasioned regular questions as to my nationality (definitely English), and even more mis-spellings, mis-pronunciations and rude nicknames at school. My paternal grandmother dealt with the questions by spreading the rumour that we were descended from Spanish sailors washed up on English shores during the Armada (hmm) As to the rest, I simply could not wait to change my name and did so with great pride to something much more ordinary, which in turn got its number of mis-spellings in UK and mis-pronunciations in Europe plus teasings and jokes…..maybe names like body shapes are something we all go through periods of wanting to alter!

  2. Mrs F & family Says:

    Interestingly my very English maiden-name was oft misspelled and mispronounced. My married name seems (particularly in conjunction with my Biblical first name) to cause the automatic enquiry to my Germanic roots.
    It does make me giggle though, that like Exwageslavea, my late grandmother-in-law used to claim decendance from the Armada. This was to explain “swathy” looks and skin, rather than the surname though and was rather a giggle ;)

  3. Lesley Porter Says:

    Well what’s in a name? I’ve had three surnames (the second one was the posh one) but am still me. That’s all that matters.

    • statusviatoris Says:

      A Status Viatoris by any other name would smell as sweet! I know, I know – even I was taken by surprise by just how unsettled the whole thing made me feel. I might change my mind in the future, but for now I prefer to stick with what I know! :-)

      (And what, may I ask, is not posh about Porter?? “A very dark sweet ale brewed from roasted unmalted barley” is about as fancy as it gets!)

      • Lesley Porter Says:

        Well I guess it’s better than “Horner” – with my initials L J, I was called Jack by all and sundry till I married. Now I am just called Hospital Porter!

        • statusviatoris Says:

          Hahahahahaha! Wonderful! Many parents do not give enough consideration to the names they pick for their sprogs… From now on I shall simply call you Cole ;-)

  4. Helen Devries Says:

    I have a first christian name which only close friends and those who don’t know me use.
    When I worked I used my second christian name.
    I have been called several other interesting names in my time, but none which appear to offer a viable alternative to those I possess.

    I have my maiden name which…. as French bureaucracy seem to want to know the ins and outs of a bull’s arse and work on the bloodline principle more strictly that the Queen’s racehorse breeder…I use on all official paperwork and nothing on earth will induce me to go through all the bureaucratic nonsense of of changing officially to my married name.

    Especially when I see how Costa Rican bureaucrats manage to spell any of the alternatives open to me…

    • statusviatoris Says:

      You do make me laugh! :-)

      And so true, although Italian bureaucracy seems to be even worse. I just bought a cantina (storeroom) from an elderly lady who was moaning to me that not only had the notaio requested the details of her mother, from whom she had inherited the thing, but also those of her maternal grandparents!

  5. victoriacorby Says:

    I had a triple barrelled surname (blame my mother) which caused complete havoc with various official bodies as it was too long to fit in standard boxes (29 letters including hyphens) and it would be randomly shortened, sometimes the first name would go down to an initial, occasionally the first two or I’d get first surname, initial, last surname. And of course it was anyone’s guess whether it would be filed under W, S or J.
    So when I married someone with a five letter single surname I leapt at the chance to assume it.

    • statusviatoris Says:

      Triple barrelled?? Kudos! I can quite understand why that had to go… You must have saved a fortune in pen nibs since getting hitched! :-)

  6. farfalle1 Says:

    I’m old enough that keeping one’s maiden name was a ‘statement,’ which I didn’t make at first, but then later did. And I’m glad. I like having the name I was born with, hang the confusion.

    • statusviatoris Says:

      It’s comforting. I actually find the prospect of being called something else quite unnerving, and I had no idea I would feel that way until I was faced with the need to decide. Weird!

  7. farfalle1 Says:

    PS – and I hope you don’t misplace the baby in the produce aisle, though probably better there than in the freezer aisle.

    • statusviatoris Says:

      I hope I don’t either, but it’s touch and go whether I remember to put my clothes on before leaving the house at the moment – if brain power doesn’t improve at childbirth, the fresh produce aisle is a very real possibility! :-)

  8. Camp Fustian Says:

    Good for you!! In the ancient days with poor/no record keeping + no genetic testing available, patriarchy served its purpose against birth defects (genetic abominations). But alas, in this day and age, there’s simply no need whatsoever for these archaic rules to remain. Your child is a part of you too, why should s/he carry your name?

    As for taking on the spouse’s name, I’ve never understood it. It’s so demeaning and yes, I do judge those who do. I can’t help being obnoxious.

  9. Erin Says:

    First of all: Congrats, SV!!!!!! I’m embarrassed that I’m so late to the game on this amazing news!

    As for the name changing and name giving, I feel precisely the same. I couldn’t be bothered to change my last name here (or anywhere), and therefore my little guy will be getting both his father’s and my last name. Problem solved, ya está. :)

    • statusviatoris Says:

      Thank you, and ditto!

      I know in Spain it is simply the norm, but what a wonderful way for both our bubs to display their multicultural heritage :-)

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