That crazy name-change issue

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In the past nine days, I’ve slowly started becoming a Johnson. It’s exciting, scary — and everything in between.

In the months leading up to the wedding, I toyed with the idea of . . .

Keeping my maiden name;
Hyphenating my last name;
Legally changing my last name, but keeping my maiden name professionally;
Just straight-up changing my last name and rolling with it.

It took me a while — and a bit of soul-searching — but I’ve ultimately decided to take Spencer’s last name. The choice is very personal, of course, and feels “right” to me. My husband has been very supportive of whatever I want to do, and I’ve been uncertain about it — but at the end of the day, my marriage marks a great change. A step into the future. And I feel like Johnson is that refresh I’ve been wanting.

I’m still me, of course. But I’m married me. And it will feel good — albeit scary — to take a new name.

Of course, these are all just words floating around the universe right now . . . I haven’t taken any legal steps to change just yet. Honestly, the idea of changing my entire identity makes me want to cower under a table fort made of old sheets at my grandparents’ house (which everyone knows is awesome). My younger sister has started the process, as has a newlywed coworker, so I’m relying on them for help and advice.

But I did make one big alteration: I changed my name on Facebook. That might as well be legal, right?

So it’s all fine and good to become Megan Johnson on a screen, friends, but that left me with another decision to make: what to do at work. Regardless of what I chose legally, I always thought I’d keep Snider somewhere in my moniker — either as a middle name or hyphenated part of Johnson. Since I write for a newspaper, I considered it a pen name. I thought it would be a nice homage to my roots.

Then I panicked.

Whatever I put with my column on Wednesday would set the tone for everything to come. If I’m Snider-Johnson now, even just professionally, that’s how I’ll be addressed by friends and readers alike. Staring at a computer screen on Monday morning, I realized I had to make a decision. A real decision.

Am I changing my name — or not?

It suddenly seemed strange to go halfsies . . . to be Snider-Johnson some places, Johnson or Snider in others. Which is it? Who am I?

Can I be both?

Caught up in the excitement of the wedding, I avoided the name-change issue. Friends have already started calling me Mrs. Johnson, and I love the way it sounds . . . but it’s still so foreign. But like all things surrounding my nuptials, both large and small, I’m sure it’s just a shift to which I’ll have to grow accustomed. I’m sure I’m not the first woman to look around in confusion when the doctor beckons “Mrs. So-and-so” out of the waiting room. (Who? Me?)

When the time came to put my byline on tomorrow’s column, I made a decision I didn’t expect.

I just went with Johnson. Plain ol’ Johnson.

So far, being Megan Johnson — at least in spirit — is pretty similar to being Megan Snider: both women are readers and writers, photographers and dreamers, daughters and sisters and friends. But the former gets to be part of my refresh, my reboot: my big, bold steps into whatever comes next with my husband.

Scary and good.

—–

If you’ve changed your name, how did it make you feel?
Did you ever feel uncertain about your decision?
Are you happy with the choice you ultimately made?


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The new normal

Megan and Spencer


Well, I had high hopes for today’s post.

I was going to sit down and craft some gorgeous words on Sunday evening, weaving in so many of the tales from our wedding day — now more than a week ago! — so they’d be etched into my mind forever.

Of course, by Sunday, we were busy restoring the condo to its previous state of almost complete chaos (versus absolute chaos) and just trying to get ourselves into a mental space to return to work after almost two weeks off. I started working on a few scarf orders, pored through our many wedding photos already back from our fantastic photographers (small sampling here), hit a craft fair with my mom and sister and basically ran around doing everything and nothing.

It was glorious.

But none of that got me to where I wanted to be: writing a wedding post, which I desperately want to do. So I’ll have to tease you with a few photos now with the promise of more to come, then offer assurances that write meg! will get back to its regularly scheduled programming shortly. Surprisingly, I have been reading — much more than I expected — and am looking forward to slipping back into “normal life.”

Of course, “normal” is different now.

But it’s super lovely, too!


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Almost a Mrs.

Married


Exactly one week before I met Spencer for the first time, I was driving home from another lukewarm date with The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” pouring through my speakers. It was raining in Annapolis; I had a long drive home. The man I’d met for coffee had been nice and polite, but there was no spark. No chemistry. When we shook hands goodbye, I knew I wouldn’t see him again.

And yet, I felt . . . so hopeful.

I remember everything about that Sunday: meeting with girlfriends earlier in the day; walking through the city; the squish of my toes in my too-small boots. It was a chilly March afternoon and I’d already received my first email from Spencer, though I’d set this Annapolis date up before we’d firmed up ours. I don’t remember when I emailed him back, exactly, but I know it wasn’t long after I got home. I just felt in my bones that good things were afoot.

That hope was not misplaced.

After years of getting-to-know-yous and falling-in-love-with-yous and wondering and excitement and a little indecision and lots of laughter, it’s official — officially time.

I’m getting married. To my best friend, my confidante — a man so thoughtful and sweet and mine that I can hardly stand it. Sunday is our wedding.

It’s been a long journey — one that started long before Spencer and I even met. But I can’t look back on the last decade of love lost and found without a sense of purpose, gratitude and joy . . . because as pedestrian as it sounds, every detour eventually brought me to Spencer. And I feel grateful every day to have him by my side.

I’m taking a blogging break for our big day and following honeymoon in West Virginia, but I plan to make my triumphant return as a married lady on November 18. I’m sure I’ll have lots of moments and photos to share! I can’t wait.

Thank you for coming along with me on this wild ride . . . and, well, every ride we’ve taken together in the last five years. It’s been so fun sharing wedding updates with y’all, and I’m sure I’ll have many stories from the other side!

Signing off for now . . . but so excited about all that’s to come.

See you soon!

xoxo


We went to court . . .

Town hall


. . . for our marriage license.

Our marriage license. It’s all official now.

Well, almost. We have to, you know, actually get married — which will occur in just a few weeks! And then it will be all official.

Hard to believe.

Time went by slowly, then quickly — and now faster still. I moved over the weekend. It was intensely emotional. By Sunday evening I felt wrung out, depleted; organizing everything I own in a new space has been challenging and scary and a little fun at times, yes — but also intimidating. And painful. And odd.

Spencer has been wonderful. Patient and kind and helpful. Understanding when I felt too wiped out to do much but stare into space; comforting when I most definitely needed a hug and chai tea.

Growing up is hard. I’m 28 but can easily close my eyes and be 10 or 12 or 22 again. I feel like my world is topsy-turvy — like everything is out of order, rearranged. I’m guessing many people feel that way after leaving home? After 25 years, I’m having a hard time thinking of “home” as anywhere other than the house in which I grew up. With my parents. And my dog.

But it’s only been two days. Two strange days. And I keep thinking of my future husband and the life we’re building and the positive changes that will accompany stepping into real adult world, though they’re hard to sort out sometimes.

Look forward, my mind hollers. Keep looking up.

I’ve always found change so difficult. Every major life transition has been met with uncertainty and fear. Graduating from middle school and high school, starting and leaving college. Break-ups. Reconnections. Heck, even falling love. So why would leaving home and getting married by met with anything but uncertainty? I know myself well enough to anticipate this would be an interesting time for me, and I was so very right.

But I’m hanging in. And I’m adjusting. I’m working on adjusting.

Bittersweet has become my refrain, my own broken record. That one word has come to embody everything I know and think and feel about 2013. I’m always so hesitant to talk about my sadness regarding leaving home because I fear judgment — like others think my anxiety is a reflection on my relationship. It’s a general assumption that wedding planning should be The Happiest Time of Your Life!!!, which makes it even harder to express the mixed bag of emotions I’m actually feeling. It makes me feel guilty and pathetic and bad. (Which is why I’ve been so grateful for places like A Practical Wedding. Nervous brides-to-be, get thee to that website.)

I remember reading Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes in 2010 — how it spoke to me on a deeper level than any other novel had at the time. The thought that moving forward isn’t something that just happens to you — that growing up and being happy are a choice — is a theme that struck every little chord in my soul, and it’s something I return to now.

“Growing up doesn’t just happen. It’s not a fact; it’s a decision.”

So I have decided. I am deciding. We are deciding.

Starting with that license.