Friday, January 21, 2011

Confused and Gray, But Ready to Travel

Last week I applied for a United States passport. One of the questions on the application was “Have you ever gone by any other name?” I pondered for a moment. I go by a nickname, and I have a “writing name.” But I don’t use either of those names for anything official, like bank accounts, social security, or driver’s license. So I answered “No.” It wasn’t until much later that I realized I’d answered the question incorrectly.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I did go by another name—my maiden name! I only used it for twenty years, and I’ve used my married name for over 43 years. Still . . . I’m glad the application didn’t ask any questions about my memory. The U.S. Department of State might have decided I’m too senile to travel.

Another sobering part of filling out the application was realizing that both Dr. Lobo and I now have gray hair. Sure, I’d realized that on some level. For several years I’ve been describing my hair color as brown and gray. On the application, however, I could only choose one color. I had to admit that my hair is more gray than brown. The passport photo confirmed my answer.

Actually, I rather like our gray hair. I think we look distinguished, although I guess some people would disagree.

I admit that the idea of someone describing us as “that couple over there with the gray hair” is a bit disconcerting. But I’ve decided to embrace my authentic self, gray hair and all.

Just don’t ask if I’ve ever gone by any other name. It might confuse me.