"Yes, I am," I said. The old me would have gone on to explain exactly why I'd decided to do that, but the new me kept it short. I'd already sat for two hours and fifteen minutes on one of those scooped out plastic chairs attached to its row of clones that insures you are shoulder to shoulder with your neighbor. The social security office was barely controlled mayhem today--maybe due to the fact that Southern California staged an earthquake drill earlier this morning or it might have been the absurdity of the larger than life portraits of Bush and Cheney grinning at us from the wall.
"Somebody oughta take that shit down!" the woman behind me said and the woman next to her concurred.
"That shit is OVER," the second woman said.
I didn't want to be there a minute longer than necessary.
"Mmmmhmmm," the clerk said said, and I think I saw her squelch an urge to roll her eyes. I waited for her to ask me about my new last name, but she didn't. She squinted hard at her computer screen and ran her fingers over my documents, but I wasn't required to explain myself. Yup, this shit is over, I thought.
It took me all week to find my Decree of Divorce. I had to sort through the box where I'd been tossing everything my attorneys have been sending me since August of '07. A couple of nights ago, I sat on the couch and put everything in chronological order and eventually came across it. I also was required to produce photo ID, my current social security card and a completed form that required my parents' social security numbers along with the usual particulars. This is what it takes to become a new person.
Next week, I'll go to the DMV and get a new license and then set about changing the name on my bank account, etc.
When I finally possess my new identity, my new last name will be my maternal grandmother's maiden name. Back in the spring when I first began to toss this idea around, I ran it by a new friend I'd made at the VCCA. He's a poet. "Clemen," he said. "That's wonderful--clement, clemency....it's a beautiful name." My new moniker has been vetted by a poet.
So, my last name will be the same as my grandmother's when she was a girl. My daughters have both taken that name as their unofficial middle name. I still retain Mr. Ex's name as my middle name. My son has no middle name--just an initial, and his last name is different from mine and my daughters' since he has a different father. But he doesn't carry that name either-- because he was adopted and has his adopted father's name.
Well, you know what Shakespeare said.
But I'm thrilled to have a new name. Because this shit is over.