When everyone was playing the 'Old Headshot' game and posting their black and whites, the line from A Chorus Line "Who am I anyway, am I my resume?" sang through my mind all day. On the day, I couldn't find any of my old headshots, which used to be in stacks in the closet. I finally found a few strays, each had a different version of my face and a different name. I think my name has changed more than my face.
When I was 10 years old I put my foot down. I would no longer be called Alice Ann. It was a baby name. Obviously. I mean I’d been called that since I was a baby. And double-digit me already realized the value of branding and Alice Ann felt too soft. I may have looked adorable with my toothy gap and blonde pigtails, but I was a force to be reckoned with. A fact, BTWS and PS, that was also the case since I was a baby.
With our moving around Navy life, it wasn’t that big of an impact. It wasn’t like people knew me from forever. I didn’t grow up with anyone calling me Alice Ann who couldn’t break the habit. Only family and we are pretty spread out. On the occasion that I see my cousin, she will still sometimes call me Alice Ann. She and I are about the same age and she happens to be Elizabeth Ann, so it’s makes sense. And I’m not as adamant about it now, especially since it turns out that changing my name became a habit.
It seems that every 10 years I change my name. 11 years after my 10 year old move to Alice, I adopted a stage name: Alice Fairfax, from a place I lived not for my love of English literature. My maiden name was too challenging. If you’ve ever had to write me a check or call me for my table, you’ve gotten it wrong enough times to know. Henry’s last name is Bass, which I was for a time. When I got divorced, I didn’t change my name back to my cumbersome maiden name to help Henry but I wasn’t a Bass anymore. I didn’t know what to be. I couldn’t put my foot down or my finger on it.
When I married my husband, I expected to be Alice Ahmed. I really liked that. Nice and smooth. Except that when he came into the country, Immigration chose to adopt the last name on his birth certificate as his surname. There aren’t surnames in Egypt, you use your Father’s first name. On his birth certificate are the names of his grandfathers up to the name of his great grandfather, Ramadan. So then both he and I became Ramadans. Hilarious to his family in Egypt. Hilarious to my family in the U.S. A friend said, “You just don’t seem like the holy month of fasting.”
When my husband became a U.S. citizen there was a box: check here if you’d like to change your surname back. Apparently, it’s still a real thing. So he checked the box and now he’s who he is. But I’m still a Ramadan. It’s not a confusing time for me but it is a launching time. Launching Henry from school to work. Launching my creative work in a new way. At the last seminar I led, I tried to introduce myself and I tripped over my last name. Ramadan isn’t right. I’ve been playing with my maiden name again, but when I tried to use it, I tripped again. I’ve moved on. It’s a baby name.
So the launch continues. I’m trying Alice Fairfax on for size. It seems roomy and comfortable. I ordered business cards with that name. Alice Fairfax. Yes. That’s it. I’m putting my foot down. For now. Check back in 2028.