Identity

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“Since we’re friends in real life now…” the text began.

“You should know there’s an extra ‘A’ in my name”.

Yes, I was being very “Anne with an E” Green Gables about it, but my name without that extra letter never feels right. It’s not me.

The recipient of the text was very gracious (as he always is) and needlessly apologized for getting it wrong. I let him know that it’s been an issue my whole life. Even my birth certificate has it wrong I informed him.

Wait…what? Wouldn’t that mean that I am, in fact, the wrong one? Au contraire. My social security card and all other official documents use that extra ‘A’.  The first passport I obtained went with the SSC spelling as did the second passport.

I have never had anyone other than myself question my identity, and that is always purely existential.

Perhaps this text was tempting the universe to mess with me, put me in my extra letter place. Or maybe it was always only a matter of time.

Last week I went very responsibly to the DMV to register our vehicle in Nevada and also to apply for a Nevada driver’s license. This goes against my usual habit of letting whatever state license I have expire before even worrying about it. Lately I’ve been waging less of a war against adulthood, so off I went to the DMV.

Proof of residency – check. Proof of identity – check and check . I handed over all items as the friendly (it’s true) DMV employee chatted and filled out forms. That’s when it happened. She paused. Looked at my birth certificate, looked over to my social security card, back to the birth certificate, glanced at my Montana driver’s license, only to land back on that damn birth certificate.  She looked up at me, and in a tone that didn’t let on that she was about to ruin my day, informed me that there was a discrepancy in the spelling of my name. It didn’t matter to her that everything else of importance in my life didn’t use that spelling, the Nevada DMV firmly goes by the birth certificate.

I held back tears. I pleaded. I almost stopped the entire process. I should have now that I look back. Before I could fully process the implications, I was standing in line for my glamour shot. The photo snapped, the man let me know my new license would arrive in a few days.

I walked out.

I cried.

I actually sobbed the sentence “Who even AM I right now?” to poor Rob. The new spelling of my name had rendered even my grammar useless.

A rose by any other name might smell just as sweet, but I bet the rose would cry too if you called it lily.

At home, I googled. I contacted my friend in law school for advice. I texted my sister to cry on her shoulder. How does one change their birth certificate? I was imagining lawyers, court dates, huge bills and stress. My sister wasted no time texting me links to the appropriate site in Washington State. She had gone through an issue with her own birth certificate years ago and had to have it corrected.

It appears I will be able to claim that extra vowel again eventually. It’s been surprising to me how very much my name and it’s spelling are my very identity. Two days ago when the new license came by mail, I cried again over the ‘mis’ spelling of my name. Even the photo of me looking like a fifty year old insomniac didn’t faze me.

I may be lost in the details, but I keep finding that deep down I am truly Just Me Actually.

 

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2 comments

  1. Oh man… I’m sorry you had to go through that exercise! Both my daughter Michelle and my friend in Portland had similar travails (both involving repeated visits to multiple floors of the Multnomah County Courthouse…) and survived just fine. Glad you are on the right path!
    It is interesting the ways in which we identify with bits of our selves or with the lables attached to our selves.
    Laughing because I just realized that if you had said “my name is Rach, but with two A’s I would have though Raach. But that’s just me.
    I am very happy that you are just you. No matter how many letters are in your name.

    G.

    • I really did think it might be because of that text!

      Keep your fingers crossed I can accomplish it all via the postal system. It might take a while but it’s time to make things right I suppose.


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