The Name Game

Photo by Katch Silva

I have been married for over a month, and I still have not figured out what I’m doing with my name. Some people seem to have decided for me. To them, I am Kylie Keeping, no questions asked. Honestly it hasn’t bothered me too much, and for the most part I haven’t gone out of my way to correct them. I suppose it’s sort of a sneaky way to try it on, see how it fits, how it looks on me.

The fact of the matter is it’s adorable. It’s a great name. A name many other actors or writers would kill for. And then we look at my old name, clunky and German, awkward to spell and say, the bane of substitute teachers and telemarketers alike. My mother and sisters were baffled when I told them I was unsure if I would be exchanging it for something cleaner and, well, cuter. Why on earth would I want to hang on to Schachte? Why did I always have to be weird about these kinds of things?

To be perfectly honest, I’ve wondered the same thing myself a few times. The last name issue has been an ongoing debate between The Boy and I for years, and on more than one occasion I have woken up in the middle of the night, turned to him, and said, “I think I’ve decided. I’m changing it.” And then the next day I’d wake up, suddenly unsure all over again.

Because that name, that clunky German name, odd as it may be, is mine. It’s been my identity for nearly twenty-four years. And the nineteen-year-old liberal arts student wearing too much eyeliner who still lives inside me demands to know: why didn’t The Boy even think about changing his name? Why do we live in a world where it’s assumed that this is my issue, not his? Why aren’t there more guys like this? Why are we hanging onto these outdated labels of propriety that don’t even make sense in modern society? And then the part of me that does not spell women with a y rolls her eyes, because Keeping is a great last name, and it’s kind of a nice idea that everyone can automatically tell that The Boy and I are a family, that we’re a unit.

I feel like either way I lose a little something. I know that if I do change my name I’ll probably mourn the old one awhile, and then get over it and move on. I know that if I decide to keep Schachte that we will not be any less of a family. I know that there are alternatives, ways for me to decide without really deciding, but hyphenation feels like a cop out, and The Boy wouldn’t even discuss both of us changing our names to something new, like Adama or Stark. I know that this decision is really not all that important, and either way it will be just fine. But the question sticks in the back of mine, and every once in awhile I take it out and weigh it up and down, like a loose tooth you can’t help but play with.

So as you can see, there is no end to this in sight. But I did just get my new California driver’s license, which means I can’t step foot in a DMV for at least another two years, so I have awhile longer to decide. Hell, I have our whole lives.

Photo by Katch Silva

2 thoughts on “The Name Game

  1. Ah, but, what of the child…

    That daughter of mine has a mother who, in those days when the daughter was born, was known to one and all by her last name, only. A name under minor consideration (but which I, for one, liked) was to give the child a first name: Broudy. Broudy Shapiro. But, it took root about as well as Schachte Keeping probably would, so…

    In the end, she’s a Maggie, and I can’t quite see her any other way.

    • OY, what a conundrum… guess we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe by then I’ll have worked out what I’m doing with my own name.

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