"I think your window is over there. Wait here while I check."
I turned to look at the 16 year old girl behind me. "You're here for your driver's test?" She smiled, revealing a row of braces laid across her upper teeth, and nodded. Her excitement shone and I envied her love of life in that very moment. Her mother flagged her to Window 20, where she stood in line for her appointment, and I turned to Window 1 in front of me, where I was to check in for my own appointment. "One o'clock," I answered the woman behind the window.
"Fill out this application. Do you have evidence of your new name?" I produced my marriage license from the manila envelope in my hand. "Good. They'll want to see that at the next window. Here's your number. Wait to be called." I took a seat and could see the young girl exit the building with the examiner, her mother looking on with pride. I looked at the application before me and carefully filled in the boxes:
A N D R E A
L Y N E T T E
L O P E Z
I considered for a moment the tremendous piece of myself that I was about to release. I thought about my accomplishments as Andrea L. Hernandez - A bachelor's degree, law school, admission to the State Bar, even Eden. I thought about last time I changed my maiden name, to Cude, my Gabriel's last name, only to change it back three years later, the man who gave me that name still unaware of the pain of having merged my identity with his just to ultimately be betrayed.
I thought about the bond I feel with my new husband, the deep, abiding love that I know is pulling us together. It's a love that's already been tested when my fears and insecurities are hard at work pushing me away from him, my memories of the pain of my heartbreak leading me. I thought about the courage that it's taken to love again, and the warmth that I have been rewarded with for giving love another try.
With a trusting plunge, I signed away my name and became Andrea Lynette Lopez.
As I exited the building I saw the mother of the 16 year old girl waiting on a bench outside for her daughter to return from the test.
"I think I'll wait with you." For 20 minutes I stayed with her, until their white Tahoe pulled in behind the back of the building.
The woman looked at me nervously. "I'd better go see if she passed." I watched her walk through the building toward her daughter and I felt a surge through my chest as I realized this moment is one I'll someday share with my daughter, but will never share with my son. A beaming smile stretched across the young girl's face and I could see her nodding, her mother hugging her. Her mother took her by the shoulders, and I saw her point back at me and momentarily, they both turned and signaled to me with a thumbs up. I smiled, waved, and headed back to work. I had just witnessed the opening of a whole new world, a brand new stage of life.
As I walked back to my office I looked at the temporary paper license in my hand, with my brand new name, part of my whole new world. It's a world that feels like it's where I was always supposed to be and sometimes I wonder what took so long to get there. I've traveled a bittersweet road. Still, I think it's been more sweet than anything, and it gets sweeter every day.
Marcos Lopez, I, Andrea Lynette Lopez, love you so much. Thank you for making me your wife.