the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a rose by any other name

When I got married in March, the idea of changing my last name never really crossed my mind. Since then, however, I have occasionally considered it. I struggle between not wanting to be traditional by taking my husband's name and a desire to make a public declaration of allegiance and a new sense of family. I also toy with the idea of a new last name altogether.

I remember meeting a new girl on the school bus during 4th or 5th grade whose last name was Morgan. I loved the way that name sounded, and I really liked the way it sounded with my first name. I went home and started writing my name as Shannon Morgan. I said it over and over. I practiced putting other first names with Morgan and decided that it must be the perfect name, because it sounded great with every name I could think of. I mean, listen: Shannon Morgan, Mary Morgan, Susan Morgan, Brandy Morgan, Brittany Morgan, Sonia Morgan, Stephanie Morgan, Jennifer Morgan, Yolanda Morgan.... They all sound good. Morgan is the best last name.

But, I also think it would be cool to have a last name that matched up better with my first name in terms of its country of origin. Shannon Murphy. Shannon O'Brien. Shannon McCarthy. Shannon O'Reilly. Shannon O'Connell. Shannon Kelly. Smith is the most common name in the U.S., and Murphy is the most common name in Ireland. I lived in Murphy, NC and loved it there. Murphy seems the most logical choice.

I also considered the meanings of names and finding one with meshed well with me as a person. Shannon means "old, wise one." Of course, this resonates deeply with me. Murphy means "sea warrior" in ancient Irish and "strong, superior" in Gaelic. Nice. Morgan means "born of the sea" in Welsh. Interesting. I sense a theme here. Unfortunately, it doesn't help me in deciding between my favorites.

I love my first name and would never dream of changing it. It's really the name that I identify with. Too bad I can't just go with it as a singular name, like Cher. And that hussy actress Shannon Elizabeth already used my first and middle names as her name. (I don't know and/or believe that Shannon Elizabeth is a hussy. I just say that, because she stole my name.)

I'm not as attached to my last name. Maybe it's the fact that it's so common and that I am sick of hearing the smartass remarks about it being a made-up alias. Maybe it's the fact that the name isn't rooted in a long tradition. My paternal grandfather was orphaned and adopted by an aunt whose married name was Smith, so his name was changed to Smith at that time. He was the first Smith in our line, and my brother and I are the last.

I have a dear friend who changed her name entirely. She found a new family and made a new life as an adult. Her name fits her beautifully, and I can't imagine her with any other name. It's funny what a difference a name can really make.

So, for now, I will make believe and try on different personae. Shannon Smith. Shannon Pearson. Shannon Morgan. Shannon Murphy. Maybe I will spend a day each week as each girl and see how it feels.

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