Running is my me time. It gives me time and space to think. I’m not a fast runner by any means, in fact I’m quite slow – I call it “jogging” when I remember. I don’t “train” to run in races (though I like signing up for them and participating), my plan is to get to the end. I run for a few reasons, to work on my slow, long term endurance, to change my body structure a bit and to have something constant and long standing to work on. I can work to add miles, then I can work on speed, then I can work on PB’s in races… I need something that I can work on for the rest of my life.
I never seem to have a shortage of things to think about and especially recently! If you follow me on Facebook you know I just got back from China to staying in Australia with my boyfriend who proposed to me on my 30th birthday. I’m performing with him in a kids show that features my weakest performing “talent” – singing, and I have upcoming auditions, the results of which will dictate where we go next and when we can get married. That’s a lot right there. It’s an exciting time in Crista-land!
Today I was mulling over a conversation Dan and I had just had. You just don’t know how much there is to consider until you actually get engaged – or I didn’t. You see, I am totally in love with Dan in the enduring kind of way. I have no question that I want to marry him, move to NYC, share the ups and downs and have children with him. But there’s all these details to it when you go to make it legal. Most of them are just boxes that you tick off. However, I’ve been really worrying about one issue – changing my last name. When I was young I never questioned it, of course when I found my mate I’d get married and change my name happily! I always thought that was how you show your love for your husband (one of the ways) and your commitment to your new family. But I didn’t get married when I was young, I did many other things instead. I lived a lot of life on my own in the years from my Fathers house to saying yes to Dan’s proposal. And I want to say I want to take his last name, I want the desire to have the same last name as my Husband and children outweighs my desire to remain a Leopardi. But every time I think of it, I feel a little grip in my heart. I actually very much identify as a Leopardi, I love my last name. I had to admit to myself at the end of the day that I didn’t want to give it up, I didn’t want become Dan’s last name. But I was ashamed to tell him that. I was afraid he’d feel I didn’t love him as much as he loves me. Or I’m afraid that maybe that’s accurate. Shouldn’t I love him more then I want to keep my last name? This is a really personal issue. Tons of friends have done both things – kept their last name or changed it and they had their reasons. But I really needed to understand mine.
Painfully I think I have to admit that I feel it takes away a very essential and proud part of me and conforms me into something less then myself. Whether this is born from being a child who witnessed divorce and before that an unhappy marriage first hand or whether this is from fighting tooth and nail to find my place in the world after 18, I really don’t know. The idea that Dan and the government could eclipse me into a different last name feels oppressive in my heart (I am aware at how dramatic this sounds. I am nothing if not a pile of drama) and I didn’t think I could squelch it without a conversation with Dan.
I braced myself and mentioned to him. Surprisingly this is no big deal for Dan. He remains that if I want to keep my last name its no big deal.
You know why, Dan loves me and the details are less important. Dan doesn’t try to change me. When I went for my run today I was mulling all this over. Dan never asks me not to go for hour long runs, ever. He’s never asked me to give up workout time, he schedules things around it. He didn’t ask me to give up being a vegetarian even though he thinks its unnecessary, in fact he makes sure to tell people ahead of time so I’m not uncomfortable. He didn’t ask me not to go to China even though he didn’t want to be apart. He let me choose and stayed with me throughout.He didn’t think my wanting to keep my last name meant anything about my love for him. He didn’t ask me to change my identity. And why is that surprising, he never has. I’m the one who “asks” myself to do those things. I’m the one who considers “shoulds”. Dan has things he wants and things he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want me to wear a froufy, puffy dress – but if I wanted to, he’d still show up and say his vows and be happy as a clam.
Like I’ve said a million times, I learn a lot about love from Dan. For some reason my version of love that I expect is judgemental and unyielding and involves things like guilt and shame. I’m the one who still feels like I have to defend myself from being “eclipsed”. I’m working hard to evolve my core beliefs and I find everyday I live with Dan I am happier and love other people better.
My sister said something to me a few years ago that has really stuck in my mind. She was happily settled and I was mourning the most recent break up. She said “love is different for everyone. your definition might be different than mine. You have to find how you feel loved”. I’ve recalled this many times since – I don’t know if she even remembers saying that to me. But now I understand better, you have to find out how you feel loved, it’s not always the same as everyone else. I’ve found it, the way I’m loved by Dan. I need to be given independence, an ability to carve out my own identity. Dan loves me in that way. Dan needs me to always come home to him no matter how long I’m away, to encourage his creative endeavors, and take life lightly.
Running thoughts…..one of the main reasons I run