Ok so I don’t know whether to scream in frustration, cry in frustration or to laugh in resignation. I think I’ve figured out the entire root of my troubles. I can trace it back, all the way back, to the day I was born. The first red flag. I was born then immediately put up for adoption (and that story is for another day). A wonderful couple was matched up with this new little bundle of joy and was to soon become a family.
My father (the one adopting me) tells of how on the night before they were to pick-up their new daughter, they were out eating with another couple. The other couple wanted to know what my (soon to be) parents were going to name their new child. My dad tells them that his mother’s name is Julia and that his mother-n-law’s name is Mary. The other couple exclaims “that’s it!!!–you name her Mary Julia, but call her Julie.” “Great idea.” Who said that??? The rest is history.
That is the second beginning of all of my troubles, and remember, the first was the whole being born thing.
Life rocks along pretty well until it’s time to start school. On the first day of school teachers start calling roll and are looking for “Mary.” “Who’s that?!” I wonder– “my name is Julie.” “That Mary girl has my same last name”. And so the story goes on and on, all the way through college. I think I’m Julie but legally, I’m Mary. Ok, I can live with that little piece of confusion. I’ll just correct all the first day roll callers.
One day a nice boy asks me to marry him. I’m going to get married! YAY! Julie is to pick up a new last name. And like all good southern girls of the day, who love things monogramed, I will be Julie, Maiden Name, New last name—the best of both worlds—–or so I thought. Has anyone figured out yet where all of this is going ??!!
Once I’m married Social Security says I need to update my name on my card so I can still get paid at work and match up with who I say I am and so the Tax man, no doubt, can find me. Ok. I can fix that. I’ll go stand in a very long line, wait and wait for my number to be called and change my old name to my new name.
But for some reason, a reason I do not know or recall, my driver’s license is still using my “legal” name. Ok, no problem, it’s just one of my now many names, it has a picture, I’m good to go.
All of that is fine, that is until 9/11. After 9/11 everything changes. Everything changes for everyone. We suddenly realize our lives will never be the same as we knew them to be. The Government has decided it must now do a better job of identifying people. It must know who is or who isn’t a citizen. I still don’t think they have this part down quite yet but I suppose it’s just a work in progress, kind of like the Budget…. but I digress.
The Government tells me via the DOT and Social Security that I need to have all legal documents match. Ok. I can do this. I can take time off from work and go to the Social Security Office and wait in a long line, again. I can wait and wait for my number to be called and change my name–again.
Whew! Glad I got that over with!!!
Then the Pope dies. John Paul II. I am devastated. And yes, I sincerely was (still am) a huge fan of JPII. My passport…where is my passport??!! AGH! It’s expired!!! AGH!!! I want to go to Italy for the funeral!!! I need to get a new one!!! However I can’t get one in time!! AGH!!! But I still need to renew it. So I do.
“What name do I use?” I muse to myself. Well I still go by Julie, Maiden name, Last Name so there you go. And a few weeks later, the Passport arrives…Julia (? hum), Maiden name, Last Name. OK. That works. Good. I can now go to Italy to pay my respects. And I do.
And then a couple of years later my aunt wants to go to Paris. And we do. And then my husband wants to go to Vermont. And we start to– but Delta says “hold up”! The TSA agent at the gate states “Do you know your name with Delta, which is on your ticket, does not match your license?” “Oh sure..see I go by Julie. The other name is just my legal name….” “Well I can’t let you go through this gate until both ticket and license match.” “Are You kidding??!” TSA agents don’t ever kid I discovered. I tell my husband to go on to the gate and I’ll go back to the counter and get things fixed right up. When is anything fixed right up at the airport??!!
I stand in a long line, staring back and forth at my watch. Finally I get up to the desk. “That will be $350 to issue a new ticket mam” I’m told. “WHAT!!??” My phone starts ringing, it’s my husband telling me Security says he has a knife in his bag. I packed the bag, there’s no knife, “tell them that’s just my straightening iron”– but he is insistent and his voice is getting higher…something about jail. I have to hang up, I have to figure out this $350 thing!!
I feel tears stinging at my eyes. Finally a different nice Delta lady tells me it’s going to be OK. She issues me a new ticket. I dash to the TSA man. This time he let’s me pass. I see my husband. He’s looking very pale. He’s putting his belt back on and slipping on his shoes. He starts screaming in that “we’re in public so I can’t scream too loud but I need to scream voice”. Seems our son who last had the bag had put a pocket knife in the side panel when he was driving back from a Spring Break fishing trip. Who knew??!! But luckily the panic and horror on my husband’s face signaled to Security that he truly was as surprised as they were. They kept the knife, but let me take my husband. Don’t know if that was too wise at that very moment, but again, I digress.
Then I retired and my aunt and I wanted to go back to Europe. Remember the license, the passport, as well as for my name with Delta now, do not match. But I’m going to Europe, heck yeah! Surrrre you are.
We’re at the airport and I have to get Delta to issue me my ticket at the desk as I can’t do it on-line because I have so many names—but I’m still me and my pictures are obviously me so I don’t understand, what’s the big deal. The agent is so nice and issues me my ticket and I’m good to go….or so I think. There’s another one of those pesky TSA agents. Do they ever smile?? She looks at my passport and my ticket. “Why don’t these match?” “Well you see, they do but Julie is the name I go by. “It’s a nick name and we don’t honor nick names” “Oh no it’s not, it’s the name I go by” “Is it your legal name? “Well, not exactly, but it is my name!” “Let me see your license” Long pause and held breath. “What’s this name?” “Oh that’s my maiden name” more long pause and not breathing. She finally waves us through. Thank God!! Europe here I come…….
Then there was the whole trying to get through the airport in Berlin when we were suppose to fly home. Another debacle I’m just too tired now to relay and you’re too tired to read….Just imagine all of the above but it happens all in German. As soon as I finally got on that plan I swore I’d get this passport thing straightened out once and for all!!!! Righhhht……..
I call the Passport folks and begin my tale of names blaming all of it on my father. As if that helps. They tell me I need certified copies of this and that, sworn affidavits form 3 different people who have known me by all my names, more money, the correct forms, etc……
I look for birth certificates, high school diplomas, college diplomas, tax stubs, pay checks….AGH!! Why don’t any of these match!!!??? Panic is sinking in as I’m beginning to realize I will never travel or leave this country again. I call my aunt in Florida. She has my baptismal record. Good! “Certify you know me and send it my way.” I call the Passport folks again. This time the nice lady tells me I just need a birth certificate, a marriage license and my drivers license, more money, a letter of explanation and I’m good to go. Great!! Now where is that marriage license……..
Fast forward to today.
I was married in Atlanta. No problem. Bet my license is there. I look on line and I can go downtown to the Probate court and purchase a certified copy. I haven’t been to downtown Atlanta in 30 years so I call my oldest and dearest friend who lives in Atlanta. I tell her we have an adventure but she has to drive. She’s in. Off we go to the Probate Court.
Did you know you have to pass through security just like at the airport? I began to panic about my whole name thing when I remembered this wasn’t the airport. Whew!! We make our way up to the proper office where I sign in. Seems there are lots of folks wanting firearm permits. Go figure. That makes me a little nervous but then I remember I just want a marriage license.
The clerk calls my name. I tell her what I need, give her my name, wedding date and proceed to wait as she scans the records. Nothing. She has nothing. What!!?? Here’s my husband’s name, try that. Nothing. “WE’VE BEEN MARRIED 30 YEARS, WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NOTHING??!!” At this my friend quips “guess you aren’t really married.” At which all the clerks behind the counter start laughing. I’m not laughing.
And then I remember. I tell the clerk that I remember we had our blood test in Talladega, Alabama. “TALLADEGA, ALABAMA?! my friend shrieks. “What in the world for, Why?!” I remind her that I am not married to a man who is a planner. When he realized that we needed a blood test and the wedding was looming, he found the closest place within driving distance, where we could wait for immediate results without having to go to Vegas –downtown Talledega. Had we gotten the license there as well??!!
The Clerk told me to call the county office there in Talladega where I could probably find the help I needed —I needed more than help at this moment–a strong shot of liquor was sounding pretty good. Once back outside I call my husband telling him I have no idea where our license could be–was it in Talladega? “Talladega, why would it be there?” he asks a little confused. I explain the whole blood test story hoping to trigger his obviously failing memory. “Yeah, we got the blood tests there but we got the license in the county of Georgia I was living in at the time.” “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??!!” “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS WHEN I TOLD YOU I WAS GOING TO DOWNTOWN ATLANTA TO GET OUR LICENSE??!!” He quietly states that it appears as if I am blaming him for this goose chase of a trip. He assumed I knew what I was talking about when I told him I was off to Atlanta to get our marriage license. Now he tells me he thinks I know what I’m talking about….damn straight!! AAAGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!
A now very long story short, I called the county office where I now thought my elusive license to be hiding and BINGO!! Tomorrow I will pay $10, bring home a license, gather all of my other identifying information, write a check for $110 and send it off to the Passport Office. I will light candles, have a novena said, and offer my oldest child all for a Passport, a Drivers license and a Social Security card to match.
And now the Pope retires and I don’t have a working passport. Perhaps by the time we have the Conclave and our new Pope—I will be able to go pay my respects. I will go.