A rose by any other name

This week I went to pick up a prescription, and when the pharmacist asked my name, I told her ‘Shelby Stewart-Soldan’ which is my full name.
She couldn’t find anything under that last name, but eventually found it under ‘Soldan’ which is only half of my last name. I made a joke that the fun thing about having a hyphenated last name is that people just call me whatever they want.
She did not find me funny, so I paid for my prescription and hurried out of there.
Also, I’m fine. I had the flu, and the flu is gone, but so is my voice. So hopefully it’ll come back after my medication.
But the interaction made me think about other people, who like me, for one reason or another decide to hyphenate their last name.
I chose to do so because I’m a writer. I started my writing career under my maiden name, which is Stewart, so I wanted to still be connected to my work from before I was married.
Another, smaller, reason is that of all of us Stewart grandkids, only one of them will carry on the ‘Stewart’ last name, and I wanted to keep the name going somewhat. I don’t know if my kids will also have a hyphenated last name, but I will say my dog is legally a Stewart.
Just one. Cosmo is a Stewart, Wanda is a Soldan. The person who registered Cosmo used to work with me at a pet store, so she just put down Stewart and I never changed it. I like that he’s a Stewart.
And Stewart is my name. I’ve seen stories of doctors who kept their maiden names because they were the ones who went to medical school and got their doctorate, not their husbands, and they wanted the credit for their hard work. As they should, getting a doctorate sounds like a ton of hard work, and I think they should get to have whatever name they want to have.
It’s actually been super helpful, because we can usually tell if something is junk mail if it’s addressed to ‘Shelby Stewart’ or ‘Shelby Soldan’ instead of ‘Shelby Stewart-Soldan’ or ‘Mr. and Mrs. Soldan.’
There’s nothing wrong with the last name ‘Soldan’ either. I love having that as part of my last name as well. But it holds less sentimental value to my husband than ‘Stewart’ does to me.
I remember a lot of things about my name and my family history. That the name ‘Stewart’ comes from ‘Steward’ and it has roots in Scottish language and ancestry. It was also the name of my grandfather, who died before I was born, and I like having that connection to him. It’s the only thing he was able to give me.
Whereas my husband’s grandfather was adopted, and ‘Soldan’ was not his last name at birth, only once he was adopted. So while Kyle loves his last name, he doesn’t have the same connection to it as I do with ‘Stewart’.
And I was kidding but wasn’t kidding when I said people can call me whatever they want. It’s easier for people to call me one or the other based on when they met me, and I’m fine with that. Both of the names are part of who I am.
I also like the alliteration. All the ‘S’ names are easy to say together. My mother’s maiden name is ‘Stomski’ so I’m also a Stomski. I think ‘S’ names are just part of my identity at this point.
Although, Shelby Stomski-Stewart-Soldan would be too much of a mouthful.
I’ll answer to any name, really. On any given day, someone would call me ‘Sydney’ and you know what? I’ll answer to that too.

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