KNAU and Arizona News
2:08 am
Tue August 1, 2006

Changing name powerful for Morales

Flagstaff, AZ – Some of you may have wondered who Laurel Morales is. She sounds a lot like Laurel Druley. Arizona Public Radio's Laurel _____ has this commentary that should clear up any confusion.

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I never realized how powerful a name can be, until I chose to change it.

I have been Laurel Druley for almost 34 years. I chose recently to change my name to Laurel Morales. I made the decision about a year ago when my fianc proposed.

It was a difficult decision to make. But it didn't hit me until I heard my colleague read it for the first time on the radio. Wow, I thought, who is that?

The origins of this tradition don't agree with me. A rancher branding his cow comes to mind. But I'm still exchanging one man's name for another man's name. Wouldn't it only be fair if my husband and I swapped names or came up with a new one like Morley or Drules?

Today we could do that. Just a few decades ago many women didn't feel they had a choice.

As with most big decisions I did some research.

I talked to several women about their choices to change or not to change their names. One woman felt taking her husband's name felt like losing a part of herself. Another felt just the opposite, like she could create a new character with a new name. Another says it was easier for her kids to have one name and no confusion. One woman felt changing her name symbolized a fresh start with her new husband. One friend says she never really liked her maiden name, while another can't stand his last name and wouldn't think of changing her own.

I have a friend who has changed her name three times. She didn't get along with her dad so she changed it from his name to her mother's maiden name. Then she got married so she changed it to her husband's name. They just got a divorce so she changed it back to her dad's name.

Each time she changed her name it was like a rebirth. She'd give herself liberty to tweak her identity -- get a degree in social work, live in Japan, go on a raw food diet, wear only purple.

Personally I have no plans to try a new religion, lifestyle or career.

So why go through the trouble?

While it may be convenient for our kids to have one last name, it's not convenient for the new wife to change it.

Waiting in line at the motor vehicle department for a half hour only to discover I need my marriage license and another form from the Social Security office before I apply for a new driver's license. And the bank won't deposit a check made out to Laurel Morales until I have a new ID and my marriage license.

And the marriage license has been lost in the mail!

So I wonder, is it worth it?

I love my husband but I'm not doing it for him or his dad. I cover a lot of Hispanic issues and adore the Mexican culture, but I'm not doing it to claim a heritage that isn't rightfully mine.

I'm an Irish-German Hoosier. People from Indiana think salsa only comes in one flavor - mild.

So when it comes down to it, it's simple. I just like the way Laurel Morales sounds.