I took yesterday as a personal day to de-(insert married last name) myself.

I knew I had sisters in the past, present, and future making this trip, so I didn’t feel like I was riding solo. But although support from others is precious and very much needed, it is the sense of self that keeps you strong going through the divorce process. Now it was time for the Christening.

Social Security needs to be Stop #1, so off I went. When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris was in my pocketbook, as I was expecting a crowded room and a long wait. Hardly anyone was there, a friendly greeter (really—no sarcasm) gave me a number and a form to fill out, and S8 was called in no time. I had a folder containing all potentially necessary papers, including proof of the Ellis Island dock number where my grandmother’s trunk landed, but all the guy needed was my driver’s license and the divorce papers. My daughter receives benefits through my ex, and I didn’t have to do anything special—all that gets automatically updated. This was just too easy. The guy was personable and helpful, and told me that my name would change at midnight, and that after that went through I’d be able to change my driver’s license.

I had Google-directioned DMV from there, but since that was a no-go at this time, I went to the bank. That actually took the longest, because the bank officer was having PC-printer dialog problems. She was getting frustrated, but I told her to take her time, I literally had all day, and not to feel bad since I have the same problems where I work. I had a cup of coffee and listened to another bank officer being berated by a customer who thought his common sense was bank policy.

Then David Sedaris and I went to lunch at one of my favorite places that has all kinds of salads, followed by his waiting in the car while I spent an hour in a cushy chair in the bookstore perusing a few You go girl! books.

Always practical, I saw this as a good chance to get the replacement ice maker filter at Sears. Then I got a box of 50 pocket folders at Office Max and gave it the responsibility of keeping track of my new life.

Back to rural life, as my next stop was my local post office. I was impressed that they weren’t closed for lunch. When I went in, the clerk was telling her boss the days she wanted off for the holidays. I finally got their attention and said that my husband divorced me and I was resuming my maiden name. The boss looked all confused. She ignored me, saying “I don’t mind working Christmas Eve.” “How about today?” I almost said. The boss looked back at me. I said I’d be receiving mail with my new name as well as with my old name for awhile, so then he got it. It was just like adding a new name to my address. Then back to the vacation scheduling. “Is this a bad time?” I almost said, but you have to not piss these people off or you get nowhere. Finally he gave me a form which made no sense. When I questioned how I was supposed to fill it out he said it was scrap paper and to just write my new name with my address to add to mail going there. OK, done. I hand the scrap paper back to him, as he agrees to letting her have time off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to cook the sweet potatoes for the casserole ahead of time. This is how you update your U.S. Postal Service profile where I live.

When I got home, I went to the phones. Insurance, utility companies, etc. I called so many companies that I started getting reruns on the names of the people I was talking to. Two Janes and two Joshes (one with an Indian accent who, unlike me, probably changed his name against his will).

Verizon was funny. The menu of what you’re calling for doesn’t have an “Other” option. I tried describing my reason for calling as:

Name change

Customer service?

Yes. I figured that would be the category. Five choices in that subgroup. None right. No “Other”.

I try: I want to change my name.

Customer service?

NO! Those 5 aren’t right. She asks again why I’m calling. I scream:

BBBlah! BBBBBLah.BBBuubbbllll!

Billing questions?

I can’t stop laughing and somehow laughing got me to a person, which got my name changed.

So I’ve joined the ranks of my fellow sisters who’ve made the Reclaim Yourself trip. If you find yourself making that trip, we’ll be there along for the ride with you. Whether your trip is chopped into fast lunch-hour stops with sneaky phone calls at work, rushed half-days, or a personal day that’s really personal, find a way to make it special for yourself. And whether your feelings about the divorce are more sweet than bitter or more bitter than sweet, and whether you’re changing your name back or keeping your name and updating other things, reclaiming yourself under any circumstances or under any name is a beautiful day!

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