A Rose By Any Other Name

Alyx Morgan is not the name I was given at birth.

I came up with my current moniker in History class when I was fifteen.  I had wanted to be an actress since I was five years old, and that was to be my stage name, like John Wayne or Chevy Chase.   However, I decided to make it legal when I turned twenty one.  My main reason for doing this was because I didn’t want to have to deal with the rigamarole of having two names.  I thought it might be confusing to have two separate bank accounts, and that transferring money between them would get cumbersome.  I discovered later that I had other reasons.

I grew up in a small town where I was related to half the population through my mom’s side of the family.  My mom was the black sheep of her family, so whenever I did or said something that people didn’t approve of, they acted like it was only natural, given who my mother was.  I thought my mom was great (still do), so I grew to hate hearing “Oh, you’re Dolly’s daughter?”, because derision often followed that question.  Many times I was found “lacking” somehow based on my last name, and to whom I was related.  So now whenever anybody asks if I’m related to this Morgan or that Morgan, I love that I can honestly say “nope”.  Judge me if you want, but at least I’ll know that it’s based on me, and not because of some preconceived notion based on who you think I’m related to.

The other thing that’s great about changing my name is that it allowed me the freedom to discover who I wanted to be.  Part of that is due to the fact that I left Michigan as quickly as I could after high school – I’m still one of the few people in my extended family who doesn’t live within an hour’s drive of where we grew up – but the other freeing aspect is that I was able to try on different personalities without feeling like I’d shock and offend someone because that’s not something I would “normally” have done.  I got to create a new “normal”!

So, back to the title of this post – yes, I had a reason for using Mr. Shakespeare’s words – and his immortal question “What’s in a name?”.  Would we still think a rose smelled sweet if we called it something else?  Well, if we were able to see and hold it, of course we would.  It looks and smells how it does, regardless of whether we call it a “staple”, “purple”, or “dung”.

The same is true for me.  Much of who I am didn’t change just because I changed my name.  I’m still from a small town in Michigan.  I still prefer lake water over the ocean.  I still use phrases like “pop”, or “I’ve got a hitch in my get-along”, and know the difference between the smells of cow, horse, and pig manure.  There are still some Midwestern values that I hold dear to my heart.  Changing my name allowed me the freedom to stretch the boundaries of what I knew and who I wanted to be, but it didn’t change my inherent foundation.

Nor would I want it to.  As much as I couldn’t wait to leave Michigan and see the rest of the world, there are still aspects of my youth that I wouldn’t change.  Memories that I might not have had, had I been born with a different name and raised elsewhere.  I know what it’s like to ride in the back of a pick up truck on Halloween, freezing your butt off because you dressed like Tinkerbell that year.  I’ve had the pleasure of playing hide and seek in a tall cornfield, or holding bonfires on the gravel driveway behind our house.  I’ll always smile whenever I hear thunder, and remember the warm summer rains of my home state.  And, regardless of how cold it gets in the Midwest, there’s nothing more beautiful than waking up on a winter’s day after a snowfall to see the bare trees covered in a glistening white blanket.

I like my “new” name.  Heck, I liked my old name before I changed it.  I like who I chose to become, and when people compliment me on the spelling of my first name, I smile, knowing that I came up with that.  What I like knowing even more though, is that I’m still essentially who I was when I was born . . . just like a rose would be, no matter what we called it.

Alyx Morgan is a great name . . . but it’s still just a name.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. E. B. Davis
    May 20, 2011 @ 10:25:09

    Oh Alyx, we have more in common than you know. Same scenario, except my father was a notorious bipolar before the disease was understood (he’s 90) but also a doctor in a small PA town. Yes, I know all about guilt by association without doing a thing wrong. Some names just are sweeter, without prejudice! Live free my friend.


    • Alyx Morgan
      May 20, 2011 @ 10:33:28

      Thanks, EB! Hopefully you’ve found some freedom as well, as that couldn’t have been easy to grow up with.

      I’ll be 42 next year, & will have spent half my life as one name, & half of it as the other . . . I’m predicting it’ll be an interesting year.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Sandra Parshall
    May 20, 2011 @ 12:34:27

    When I was a kid I was always dreaming up alternate realities for myself — not just different names, but complete new identities. I still wish I could do that for real! I’m glad you followed through on the name change and ended up with one you like.


    • Alyx Morgan
      May 20, 2011 @ 13:16:04

      That’s the cool thing about being a writer, Sandy . . . we DO get to live those alternate realities. True, it’s only in our heads & on paper, but sometimes that can be enough (for me, anyway).

      As for my original name, I liked that one before I changed to my new one . . . I guess I just liked “Alyx Morgan” better.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Mom
    May 20, 2011 @ 16:35:14

    As your Mom, I will proudly attest to your individuality. I have always encouraged thinking for yourself, so when you came to me with this info, & hoped I wouldn’t be hurt by your actions, I reiterated “You’ve got to do what works for you.” I love you very much, & am very proud of the person you are.


    • Alyx Morgan
      May 20, 2011 @ 17:32:53

      Thanks, mom! Much of that is because of you & the fact that you allowed me to spread my wings. 😀

      I love you too, & wouldn’t want anyone else as my mom!


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