I wanted my old name for my new life.

I never wanted to change my name in the first place. I assumed my wedding ring and forced celibacy was evidence enough of my marriage, why did I also have to trade in my individuality, like after my original life I was contractually obligated to make a sequel?  I had lived more than thirty years with my name, any changes would make a mockery of my monogrammed sweaters. But I did it, in that same hypnotized way I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do, like eating broccoli and shaving my legs. Other people felt that I should do it and my shoulder muscles got tired of shrugging, so it happened.

The process of going back to my maiden name was lengthy and annoying, and by that I mean I needed to get off my couch and find a working pen.  There were forms to fill out and birth certificates to locate, divorce papers clipped to depositions from my Kindergarten teacher testifying that I was and had always been who I said I was, downloading paperwork, printing it out, spilling orange juice on it and printing it out again.  Often I would forget something or use a blue paperclip when the instructions clearly indicated that I use yellow and have to make a second trip to a generic government office, leave second butt indents in a waiting room chair and take a second angry walk back to the parking lot where I punched my dashboard until dust floated around the interior of my car.

But not this time.
I was at the DMV, the home of shattered dreams and golf pencils, ready to take my life and my license into my own hands. I was ready. And sweaty. And having an especially pale skin day. And wearing my hair pulled back in a bun that made me look like a pruny spinster in an archive photo from a turn of the century insane asylum.

“Stand on the blue line and look up here” the woman behind the formica counter deadpanned, her voice devoid of hope or inflection.  I began to wheeze. I had anticipated every form of documentation they might want, including a written plea for compassion by the Dalai Llama, but I had overlooked one ugly detail: my photo. A new name meant a new license picture and a new opportunity to kick my self esteem in the jewels.

I lifted my chin and thought about my future, now unclear but bright and exciting, joyful and waiting to greet me with open arms. I prayed to Dom DeLuise, the patron saint of double chins, and smiled, open, embracing and proud of how far I had come, fully conscious that this was a big step into my life’s new phase.

Visually, this translated into the tragic result of frankenstein-driver-licensean unholy union between Frankenstein and Frasier’s frigid wife Lilith from Cheers. I was a perfectly square head on no neck with a fluorescent complexion and the crazed eye twinkle of a crackhead, but I didn’t yet know that when the confidence assassin called her co-worker over and they looked at the monitor, chuckling to each other.
“That’s a big smile” the man said, leaning towards me, “you sure look happy.”
“I am” I laughed, “now that I have my name back.”

When I opened the envelope with my new frightening license in it I tried not to wonder if the DMV people had been openly mocking me or just quietly mocking me, but it didn’t matter. I had a terrible picture but a wonderful name…..mine.
And a really big smile.

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