Monday, 30 December 2013

Once a Rogerson, always a Rogerson

Something that has become more of a conscious consideration since my family have been here is whether or not I will - once I can initiate divorce proceedings, which in North Carolina cannot be done until a year after official separation - change my last name back to 'Rogerson'. I've been reflecting on it for a while without the presence of my closest blood relatives, but having them here has thrown the question into sharper relief.

I've pushed aside the very basic practical considerations: given that applying for removal of my Green Card conditions, proving the bona fide nature of what was my marriage, and then looking towards (all being well) going for US citizenship, the paperwork aspect of the task doesn't intimidate me at all. There's plenty of company for one extra form or clause in the divorce decree, and I'm very well versed in contacting the DMV, Social Security Office, and all the utility companies to change details like this. According to Jackie Pilossoph, author of blog 'Divorced Girl Smiling', it's not actually all that much of a hassle anyway, either.

The reasons why I might do it are mostly pretty obvious:
  1. I love my family very much, and I always loved being a Rogerson. Being an 'official' part of that group again would give me great joy and satisfaction.
    We're quite good.
  2. Taking my old name back is a form of independence that may make me feel freer to continue my life as a single, self-sufficient woman under her own name. 
  3. The name is also shared by several other (albeit more distant) fantastic family members, who I again identify and celebrate being connected with. 
  4. The name itself suits my shorter first name and total lack of middle name, if we're just going for basic aesthetics. 
  5. The last name 'Lloyd' is shared only by my ex-husband, and not any extended family with whom I have a connection, so there's no link to a group of people, emotional or otherwise. 

The reasons why I might not, though? Pretty much the exact opposite, in a way:
  1. I love my family very much. I'm still, quite clearly, a Rogerson - even if not by legal name. There's no way I have ever felt less a part of my wonderful Fantastic Four just because I changed my last name. So does it matter?
  2. Taking my old name back might be seen as a fresh start, but only if I want to create and can truly identify with a new girl under that name. There's a possible element of shame, responsibility, or explanation involved too, to some degree: having to have the people in your life (personal and professional) adapt or revert to using your maiden name again, because the marriage you wanted so badly failed. It's a very obvious marker, at least at the beginning of the process. More than that, though, while I love my family name, moving to the States and learning to be, rather than to seem to be is all tied into the name I now bear. I do not regret coming here and the reasons why I did so, and nor do I regret who I have become. I actually quite like the woman - and she's pretty self-sufficient and strong just as she is. 
  3. This I will explain in the same way as point #1. I'm not in any way less connected to other Rogersons simply because I quit the name for what was, at the time, a very positive and loving reason. 
  4. The amount I care about both my names being short is negligible. Also, the joke nickname 'Eviloid' has been born of the new surname I adopted, which is pretty awesome as well. 
  5. Sharing a name with just Ben isn't something I especially want going forward, but at the same time, I also don't mind too much in some ways. It's also my name. It's something I chose. He didn't give it to me, I took it. The choice to keep it or rescind it is also mine, either way.

This isn't something I have to decide until later in 2014, and I intend on giving it a lot more thought. Another option, of course, is to pick a new name all my own (although I think that NC law actually prohibits that, unfortunately, at least as part of the divorce paperwork), so I could probably have some fun with that! One thing is for sure, though: Eve Rogerson has been here all along.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Red, Gold, and Green

My family arrived today. My beautiful, amazing friends took the day to be with me and us, to brunch and to anticipate and celebrate, to pick up and transport, and to drink Champagne and toast with us when we returned to my house. I'm pretty much beyond words at the moment, as I'm so happily overwhelmed by the wonderful fact of those incredible friends, and the joy of both renewed connectivity and much-needed familiarity of being next to my kin. I feel it in my heart and my blood and my breath that I'm recharging already, and I'm so excited to be able to be with them. It's true all the time, but especially now.

So, rather than gushing further (moi?!) tonight, I'll leave you with some multimedia captures from the day, which are mostly thanks to the bloody fantastic Cassie and Lesley. Firstly, Cas got a bit up close and personal with her camera in my face, which was contorted in contained excitement knowing that Mum, Dad, Sam, and Wren had all just landed:

Waiting at arrivals, not at all bothered.
Okay, maybe a little bothered.

Then, they filmed the moment that Mum and I saw each other:

I make no apologies. Not even to my broken feet.

After we got home, I took a quick shot of everyone saying hi. You know, to prove they're really here and I didn't totally dream it. 

Around my table! 

They're really here, and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New year's Eve

Disclaimer: Probable incoherent introspection with a side of gushing

While I have almost always been blessed with the most incredible of friends in my life, it's a relatively new thing to me to have community within a group of friends - a larger contingent of people who all know each other and interact on a deeper, emotionally open level within that group and sub-groups thereof. Of course, connectivity is something I thrive on (NOW KISS!) so this pleases me no end, and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by love in this way.

Aboriginal symbol representing
community or home - a necklace
from my sister-in-law
I cannot work out whether it is the stage in my life that I'm now in that has been the main contributor to this change in relationship dynamic (becoming more able to love this way and actively seeking it out), or a cultural difference in how people interact in NC, or simply the amazing individuals that serendipitously happened to have been around at the point at which I moved to the Queen City. It is this community in part - a very significant part - that has made me want to stay in Charlotte and not return to the UK despite other, important and previously-considered-permanent, aspects of life here not remaining the same. These wonderful humans have made this place a home; they have enriched my life here with their time, care, humour, generosity, kindness, and passion for our shared lives; and as well as that (more than, as it's not all about how they relate to me!) they are simply brilliant in and of themselves - each one a joy to experience and a privilege to know.

So, I can't partial out whether my internal changes resulted in being able to be in this kind of friendship family, or whether being around people who love wholeheartedly was a virtuous circle of encouragement that kind of needed each of us for it to have happened in the first place, thus causing the aforementioned changes and making us who we are now. I don't suppose it really matters, but suffice it to say that they have enabled me to hold on to the core concept of who I am while also allowing me - patiently, and without judgment - to explore what I might become in this new land of Eve. Gosh, that sounds like the title of a terrible novel, doesn't it? 'The New Land of Eve'.

...I'm okay with it.

Mรกs fuerte
What I'm trying to get at is that it's taken me some weeks of processing pain in a way that I can understand, really feel, and try to move forward from, but my friends have protected me in myriad ways while I've been working out where my heart is. And while I can't say I'm fully okay or will be (what does that even mean?), I haven't felt pressure to be any way at all, plus they have showed me that deep and enduring love by choice is very much possible even while I'm in the middle of struggling with the exact opposite. Loving profoundly (outside of family) is not just an emotion or a gut response; it is both a decision and a verb, and certainly not an impossibility. Having that faith maintained has been essential and I am so grateful to them for it.

One of my beloved sister-friends put it best, saying that my cognitive processing would be fast and I would work out that I would pull through and know it on a deep level, but that my emotional processing would be slow, messy, and frustrate me because it wasn't as organized and efficient as my rational side. She knows me too well! That is precisely what has happened, and that dichotomy has actually been the source of most of my distress in trying to recover. There are two issues with this bipolarity, the first of which is the basic fight I have in me not to be miserable. I am not a sad person by nature, or at least have not been since the latter half of my twenties, and "wasting time" being low and literally aching with pain seems such a waste of the brief sneeze of time we get on this planet. But sometimes you really do have to let yourself feel it in order to move through it. The other issue is that having a few good days and happy things happen is wonderful, but the sudden and ostensibly inexplicable crashes are then even more exhausting, and all-encompassing on particularly bad days. They are getting fewer, gradually, but nevertheless remind me that taking care is necessary (of myself and others), and that I currently cannot predict myself as well as I used to. Which is also okay.

This post is dedicated to all of those people who believed in my strength and helped me start to find it again - you know who you are. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your unwavering support has been the making of my resilience. 2014 is fast approaching, and this new year's Eve (Geddit?! Sorry.) isn't someone I don't like, even if I'm not sure of all of her yet. I'm still capable of loving and appreciating love, whether directly or vicariously. I'm still surrounded by beautiful souls - not abandoned or forgotten, but in fact shown an inordinate amount of care every single day. I'm still exuberant and joyful and appreciative. I'm still willing to take risks, even if I'm significantly more scared about some things than I used to be. I'm also (consequently?) more excited about not knowing what the future holds. I'm venturing out of comfort zones. I'm writing more. I'm considering lives that aren't mine right now and wondering about how they might fit if I tried them on. I'm still a Rogerson, and I get to recharge over the holiday with my remarkable family who bring such complete warmth and light (5 sleeps and counting!). And then I get to step forward into the next 365 days' expat adventures as a woman who is sometimes brave, sometimes scared, and sometimes both, but always hopeful, and always willing, and always open. For that I am unspeakably thankful.