Because the days are going faster and faster here lately, it seems, I will go ahead and declare this post the last blog post I will make as Monica Spees.
As a kid, I didn’t hate having an odd last name, but I didn’t love it either. As you can imagine, having “pees” in your name doesn’t always yield kindness from your classmates. I also didn’t like having to sit there and wait quietly during roll call while everyone else’s name was called. What was worse was when the teachers would line us up alphabetically for something fun like recess or ice cream (in those cases, I ran faster than everyone else when we were finally set free on the playground, or I was stuck with strawberry ice cream instead of my desired chocolate). Nor did I enjoy having my name mispronounced (Sees, Speers, Spez, Seeps, etc.). It’s only five letters, and four of them are the same. How hard can it be?
I often found myself longing for my wedding day simply so I could have a normal last name. If no one would marry me and if I grew up to be a writer, I would use the pseudonym Alice Baker.
It must have been in high school when it hit me that I was the younger daughter of two daughters, the older of which had already gotten married and received a new last name. In other words, my last name would disintegrate with me.
The harsh-sounding German “Spiez” was the original name, as I learned at a family reunion when I was about 15 years old. Perhaps it came from this little Swiss town. When some Spiezes immigrated to the United States, the name evolution began. As the family grew and split, other variations cropped up, and Spees became one of the Americanized versions.
I began to entertain thoughts of keeping the Spees name no matter what. But what would that solve in keeping the name alive? If I got married and had girls, statistically speaking, they would change their last name when they got married, and that would probably be their father’s last name anyway. Sons wouldn’t be likely to take a hyphenated name. And with kids, it’s hard enough to get them to write a few sentences in elementary school – those formative years when they’re learning writing habits – so no boy or girl would want the hassle of writing out their first name and long hyphenated last name. This rabbit hole of thinking had me feeling sorry for putting any undue stress on my fictitious children.
In college, my last name became my first name. Any of my college buddies reading this who are responsible for that, you know who you are! One of my college roommates’ mother asked her, after she and I had been friends for almost two years, where my parents came up with such a unique first name: “Spees.” That’s all my old roommate has ever called me.
I was never the kind of girl to write my first name preceding my boyfriends’ last name over and over in my notebook with hearts and sparkles around it, but as I got older and the possibility of marrying someone I dated became more feasible, I would roll the combo over in my mind. Did I like it? Could I live with it? Would it look weird written down? (I never did the latter because I was afraid of jinxing the relationship.)
As more and more of my friends got married off, out of necessity as the single girl, I grew more attached to the weird Spees name. Unlike in elementary school, I found myself proud to instruct befuddled cashiers and hard-of-hearing interviewees on the correct pronunciation and spelling. Not everyone’s last name gets so much attention.
Then I met Cory. Cory Ramsey. A man with a normal last name, something I had dreamed of as a child.
When we first met, I didn’t intend to stay with him long (nor did he intend to stay with me), so I figured on keeping my maiden name until it became an old maid name. But the longer our relationship went on, the more I started to wonder if it was going to end at all. Still, he totally surprised me when he gifted me with a ring in December 2015.
A year and five months. Approximately 532 days. That’s how long our engagement has lasted, and that’s how many days I have had with my last name since I found out I was going to part with it.
Some women don’t change their last name when they get married. Reasons could include the over-complication of changing every account or official record their name has ever appeared on, feminism or simply liking their name the way it is. I don’t begrudge anyone for what they choose to do about their name upon marriage. That’s their business.
For me, I don’t view taking on the Ramsey name as killing my old Spees name. I don’t view it as Cory lording his domineering masculinity over me and keeping me in my place as his inferior wife. Because he isn’t taking Spees from me; I’m giving it. My last name is symbolic of where I rank this marriage in my life. This marriage is above my past, it’s above the hassle of going through a name change. Giving away my last name is my way of saying to Cory, “I’m giving you every part of me.” It’s also my way of acknowledging that we truly are one.
Some of you may be saying, “You say he’s not keeping you in your place, but what does he give up?” I won’t speak for Cory, but I can tell you he has given up his share to show me where our relationship ranks in his life. Any number of the things he has sacrificed could be symbolic to him, but he hasn’t told me what that is. Time, money, self-sufficientness, the fluidity of being unattached, etc. Sure, I’ve given up some similar things in our relationship, but I know there’s something that’s significant to him that he has given for me. I know that because I know he loves me.
None of this means that getting married is all doom and gloom and giving up fun and freedom and so forth. Rather, it means that we are exchanging some of those things for richer, more valuable things in our life together. Our individuality doesn’t fade away altogether, but instead combines to make each of us stronger people and a stronger couple.
In matter of days, “Spees” will disappear from my driver’s license, Social Security card, credit card, debit card, business cards, work email address and a bunch of other places of which I’m keeping a list. I’ll have to reteach myself how to write a capital “R” and lowercase “y” for my signature. I expect to accidentally write the wrong last name for several months until I get the hang of it.
But I’m looking forward to it. I want to take his name because it’s one way I show him I love him and that we’re a team.
But I know my college buddies will never stop calling me Spees. And I’m okay with that.