After we set the date, on our -1 year anniversary, I wrote Ben a card and signed it "the future Mrs. Ben Naylor." (Note: I was quite amused by how strongly all the posters over at A Practical Wedding objected to being called, as they put it, "Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast." Apparently that was a highly un-feminist way for me to sign a card.) I've never seriously considered doing anything but taking my husband's name, and for as long as I've known that Ben would be my husband, I've wanted to be Mrs. Naylor. (I may or may not have practiced signing my future name in the margins of my Museum Studies notebooks long before we were ever engaged.)
And yet, I always knew that giving up my name would be kind of sad. I have a rockin' name, after all. It's potentially the most interesting thing about me. I've always referred to it as my conversation piece. The most common reaction it gets is "Is that your real name?" and the second most common reaction it gets is "I have to tell my wife your name!" Men are forever telling their wives my name. It's been commented on by almost every professor I've ever had, not to mention everyone from waitresses to sales clerks. For a while, before I met Ben, I had every intention of finding and marrying a man by the name of Butler, so I could keep the theme going - Katie Scarlett O'Hara Butler. If his name were Rhett, so much the better, but I expected Rhetts to be hard to come by. I didn't expect Butlers to be so hard to come by! Of course, it's a good thing they are, as I'm very happy with my Naylor.
When I walked out of work Friday afternoon, April 30, I hadn't yet bought the -1 year anniversary card, but I had already planned exactly what I was going to write in it. And it hit me, there at the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania. 365 more days until I was Mrs. Ben Naylor meant I only had 365 more days of being Katie Scarlett O'Hara. And that made me want to cry. And it still does. (But then, I've been a little emotional all day. You should have seen how hard I cried this afternoon when the women of Walnut Grove banded together to rescue the ruined wheat harvest while their husbands were away.) I have no intention of dropping any of my names; I've figured I'll take O'Hara as a second middle name, though I hear that doing so can mean extra paperwork. But the really remarkable thing about my name was always how much interest it generated, how many people liked it, how men I'd never spoken to before would come up to me and tell me their wives loved my name ("I've never spoken to you, much less your wife! How does she know my name?!"*), how it leads to 15-minute conversations with the girl behind the counter at Bed Bath & Beyond.
That's over, isn't it? No one will know both of my middle names unless I tell them. The fun was never knowing when one of these random, pleasant conversations would happen. Now I'll know that they'll likely never happen. As much as I very much look forward to being Kathleen Naylor (which really is a wonderful name, isn't it?), this is going to take some getting used to.
*He was the guy who processed the paperwork for our office, so he'd seen my name, and told his wife about it, before he'd actually met me.