As Jennifer and I walked through the concrete levels of the downtown parking garage I felt a sense of nervousness, a knot in my stomach that was part anticipation part worry.
On the one hand this was so exciting, I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. But on the other hand…what if something went wrong? What if the judge turned out to be a crazy right wing nutjob and said ‘No way in hell, now get out of my courtroom!’??
Part of me knew that nervousness was playing tricks and making my fears play out scary cartoonish scenarios in my mind. But knowing this didn’t do anything stop it from happening. We had waited years for this to happen and now this hugely important event affecting the rest of our lives would hinge on the decision of a single person, a stranger.
THE HALLWAY CLOCK
In a hallway a small ways from the courtroom Jennifer and I hung out in front a set of tall windows that showcased a panoramic view of downtown Anchorage.
Our lawyer waited with us. He leaned against a heater casually, joking and telling stories of what he’d been doing in the last couple months.
We smiled back and laughed a little but there was really only one thing on our minds at that point: what was going to happen in the courtroom in about twenty minutes.
The clock ticked along slowly. Sloooooowly. Each click of the second hand was moving through molasses and there was nothing that could be done about it.
When the time came around to go into the courtroom I saw that it actually wasn’t really a conventional courtroom but just a normal sized room with the judge and her assistant on one end behind a couple of regular office desks and on the other end rows of waiting room type chairs were lined up, almost all empty.
There was one other case ahead of us that needed to be taken care of. We sat and waited while the judge talked to the woman about…well who the heck knows…it was all bla bla bla to me…super important to the woman no doubt but I had so much on my mind that I couldn’t really concentrate on what they were saying.
Finally the judge moved on to our case. For our lawyer this whole name change procedure was apparently old hat and he stood up and easily stated in legal language that Jennifer wanted to change her last name. No she wasn’t trying to avoid debts. No she wasn’t trying to avoid legal troubles. Yes it had been posted in the paper for the required number of days. Etc etc etc….
THE REASON WHY
Then the judge asked Jennifer why she wanted to change her name.
Jennifer stood up and said that she wanted to change her last name to Wirawan because she wanted to have the same last name as me, the love of her life and wife of a decades. It was a simple statement but at the same time was so incredibly powerful because of all the love it represented.
There was a pause (and was that a slight smile from the judge?) and the proceedings went on a bit longer with the judge and the lawyer going through the legal motions.
The judge typed away on her computer in silence for a while and then…suddenly announced in so many words that the name change was approved. It was very anti-climactic after all the worrying I’d been experiencing leading up to it but that didn’t matter. Jennifer and I were so happy we immediately stood up and hugged each other with big smiles on our faces. We were now after all these years officially The Wirawans.
We found out a while later that the judge thought we were an adorable couple and had considered asking us if we wanted to take a picture with her to commemorate the occasion. But she decided against it because she thought we might think it was weird.
I wouldn’t have thought it was weird though, that day was one of the most meaningful days in my life. Jennifer changing her last name to match mine meant the world to me. I felt so happy the day the judge approved the name change that I’m not even sure how to describe it.
But as happy as I felt that day it doesn’t even compare to how I feel every time I hear or see the name: Jennifer Wirawan. It’s so awesome it can even transform the most commonplace of events into something wonderful. Do you ever get excited about looking at some random piece of mail like the electric bill? I do, because it has my favorite name in the world printed right on the front :).