“Oh, are you related to our manager? That’s his name.” The lady in the shop asked after I gave my surname for the GiftAid form.
“I don’t know. It’s not really my name,” I said.
She looked confused and then a bit cross so I hurriedly continued: “I mean, it is my name but I haven’t had it for long. Well, six years this year. Since I married. It’s my husband’s name…so not really my name.” I realised I was rambling, especially as her eyes started to glaze, and stopped almost mid-sentence. She did the classic smile and nod, internationally recognised as the sign for: “Oooookkkkk, moving on.”
I took Mark’s surname (or partially so) when we married for a number of reasons – not least because I thought it would be fun to try out a new one after 30 odd years. I kept my surname for professional purposes so, aside from the occasional letter and filling in GiftAid forms, not that much has changed.
It isn’t really something I think about often but when I do say the new (ish) one (if I remember, which I sometimes don’t), I just don’t feel connected to it. It feels like I could be called anything and it would be the same. I don’t suppose it is all that strange but it feels a bit disconcerting, especially as it’s Freya’s name too – and I obviously do feel connected to her.
I was never all that bothered by my surname until one Saturday afternoon, during a quiet moment at work, my boss had me type it in to a genealogy site. I figured my family had always lived in the same place since time began but this simple search discovered Greaveses born as far away as South Africa – and even my great grandad was born in Ireland.
Suddenly they became real to me.
I caught the bug then and carried on researching, linking all these different people back to me; my tree growing taller and broader every week. It was like I suddenly felt the weight of them as they came to stand behind me. I can tell you all sorts; where they were born, what they did, how they died. It makes me feel connected to it (and them) in a way that I just don’t (or maybe can’t) to my new name.
I don’t think it’s blood related. It’s my mum’s 70th birthday today and for her main present my brother and I hired a genealogist to confirm the rough picture we had of her maiden name linage, which I then made into a book. It is interesting stuff but in an abstract way. I don’t feel particularly connected to that side of the family – even though it’s half me.
So it’s purely the name. And I know it is just a name. But it’s my name.
Does anyone else feel the same? Does it really matter not to feel connected to it?