November 7, 2001
sweet little old lady at the polling place last night seemed befuddled.
Pollen your maiden name, dear?" she asked, squinting through bifocals
at her list of registered voters. "Or is it your married
explained once again -- patiently, because she reminded me of my Grandma, and
because I feared and adored my Grandma, and because one simply does not get
testy with one's Grandma, especially when both of you are there simply
doing your civic duty like good Americans -- that it was neither.
probably still registered as Polen," I said, taking great care to
pronounce my former last name correctly. ("POH-lin" -- rhymes with
strollin' or bowlin' or rock-and-rollin'.) "But I got married last
summer, and my new last name is Rafter." And I leaned over the table
and made a big show of pointing to my name and address in her book ...
making sure to use my wedding ring hand to point with.
says the wedding ring. I'm all respectable and married and
stuff, Grandma. None of this living-in-sin business.
really should have changed your voter registration as soon as you got
married," she scolded.
hung my head. "I know," I said meekly. "I guess I just forgot."
it's true. I thought I'd changed everything that needed changing, right
after the wedding -- my I.D. and Social Security card, my bank account
stuff and credit cards, my membership in the Matt Lauer Appreciation
Society -- but obviously gaps still remain in the formal Rafterizing
process. Some of the 'gaps' share the other half of the bed with me,
as a matter of fact. David was visibly startled this morning when an
e-mail landed in our mailbox addressed to "Terri Rafter." He sat there
looking at the computer monitor and saying the name out loud, a couple
of times ... Terri Rafter, Terri Rafter ... as
though it was the first time he was hearing it.
"There's never been a
Terri Rafter in my life before," he explained. "I'm still getting used
I understand. We're both still 'getting
used to it.' I still experience the occasional amnesia moment -- when
the UPS guy is waiting for my signature, when the Customer Care
Representative is asking me to spell my name, last name first, when
I'm ego-surfing on the Internet -- when I have to stop and think
about it for a moment. (What's my name again?) But
that's OK. I find the whole thing more amusing than annoying. It's part
of the whole process of settling into a new marriage, like figuring
out where you're going to store the new bath towels. (And the good news
is that I really LIKE my new last name ... mainly because it's
virtually impossible to mispronounce. No more "Terri Pollen," which
always sounded like the name of a bacterial strain or a tropical
disease to my ear.)
things I love about being married, in no particular order:
I love knowing that a dispute -- we don't have fights, we have
disputes -- isn't going to be a marriage-ender. It may mean
that one of us sleeps on the sofa for a night while the other one
of us lays awake in bed, wondering what he did wrong. It may generate a
heart-wrenching journal entry or two. But it doesn't mean the marriage
love being part of a big messy extended family ... his and mine and
ours, all mixed-up together.
LOVE being in love with my husband.
This is something brand-new for me, and it is indescribably lovely. The
best that my ex-husband and I could ever manage was a sort of default
affection ... when we weren't busy throwing plates of spaghetti and lit
pumpkins at each other, I mean. (The irony is that I feel more genuine
fondness for my ex today than I ever did in the entire sixteen years of
our marriage. But that's another story for another day.) I love looking
at David, as he's pushing the shopping cart down the produce aisle, and
thinking That's my husband ... and feeling GLAD
love the feeling that I don't have to shoulder life's little burdens
alone: that I am partnered with someone in everything from sobriety to
sex, from taxes to termites, from laundry to leg cramps.
love the fact that I am married to someone who is constantly
encouraging me to be better than I am ... even if it means getting up
out of my nice comfy chair, after a long day at The Dirt Company, and
strapping into my uncomfortable shoes and finding my glasses and
walking down the street in the cold dark night air to the polling
place, twenty minutes before it closes, so I can do my civic duty and
vote on the local school bond measure.
I'd finished casting my vote last night, I returned to the registration
desk to turn in my ballot.
Grandma Lady smiled at me sweetly.
you go, dear," she said, handing me a little red white & blue
"I Voted!" sticker ... plus a blank Voter Registration Form. She showed
me exactly where to fill in the name-change information -- "Now you
make sure you take care of this right away!" she said -- and she gave
me a twinkly, vaguely menacing look that said I'm going to
know if you don't.
ma'am," I meekly replied.
I stuck the "I Voted!" sticker to the lapel
of my sweater, and I carefully tucked the Registration form into my
purse. Am I going to get busy and fill it out and mail it in as soon as
possible? Damn straight I am.
Grandma Lady knows my name ... AND she knows where