Changing Your Name Is Like Moving to a New City

View from The Home Depot parking lot, Minnesota, 2016.

Some months ago, I was listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, “Happier,” in which she espoused the virtues of a virtual move. The term “virtual move” was used as a term for an act in which you tell yourself you’re packing for a move, so that you will declutter and get rid of items, as if you were getting ready to leave. What would you take, and what would you give away?

In the first eight days of changing my name to ☀️💛, I have come to equate it with moving to a new city. The landscape is different. You look at the mundane things of life with new eyes. (Can you imagine going to the DMV as ☀️💛?). As I learned last week at art class, even the simple act of being presented with a blank name tag can create a state of existential angst.

We moved to Minnesota from Illinois three years ago, and although a lot of the newness has faded, I recall how jarring the differences felt. The zipper merge? What’s that? Hot dish with tator tots, for real? MEA weekend? What’s up with all the wild rice soup? Also, why don’t they salt the roads – does no one notice that it’s slippery? Why is summer vacation three solid months long? Does everyone have a cabin up north? Aren’t we far enough north already? And isn’t it endearing how Minnesotans love their state? They put Minnesota on dishtowels, bottle openers, jewelry, cutting boards, buffalo plaid blankets. Yes, it really is endearing.

Although our move only entailed going from a (large) Midwestern city to a (smaller) Midwestern city, it was a shock to the system. That shock was much needed, even if it came with challenges related to there not being enough salt on the roads for my taste. For at least a year after you move, you pay attention to every small detail. Once, after loading my groceries, I stood in the Lunds and Byerlys parking lot marveling at the sky. I was stopped dead in my tracks, in awe of the beauty. Everyone carrying their grocery bags of wild rice soup looked at me — not even glancing at the glorious sky — and kept walking. But because I was a stranger in a strange land, I had noticed something they took for granted. I don’t blame them: It’s human nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *