i’m not convinced there’s ever a good time to turn over a new leaf. i’m not even convinced that the possibility to do so in a meaningful manner exists. as Assemblage 23 said in their song “Damaged”? “i am merely the product of the life that i’ve lived — an amalgam of sorrows, and the wisdom they give.”
despite that? being tethered to my past doesn’t stop the future from happening. by now there’s a lot of present, and by that, a lot of past, that i haven’t gone through as exactly myself. i’ve said pieces of my reality before, with varying degrees of clarity. i haven’t hidden the fact that i’m nonbinary; that’s something i’ve been pretty clear about since 2013.
but, being out about my gender identity isn’t enough. this name i’m stuck with, this name a lot of you are still calling me, isn’t exactly me. i’ve alluded to that over and over again, and talked as clearly as i ever had in a semi-public venue in a National Coming Out Day post on Facebook last month, that my name isn’t me, and is soon on the way out.
there’s no good time to do it, but there are less bad times. and, what is an intercalary period if not a good time for it?
technically, an intercalary period exists to harmonize a system of months with a solar year. but, as a horse racing person? horse racing runs year-round. there are important races going on all year long. but, the quietest time for us is after the Breeders’ Cup and before Thanksgiving week, races like the Clark or the Cigar Mile. The Breeders’ Cup is done. the road to the Derby isn’t in full swing, and neither are the preps for the Pegasus. it’s as quiet as our sport gets, and it’s as much time as i ever get during the year to be a little introspective.
and it’s also coming up on my birthday. my birthday falls during the closest thing there is to horse racing quiet time, right in this intercalary period.
and, what has been screaming at me, and never so loudly as now, where there isn’t as much else screaming at me? i’m tired of dealing with a name that has felt dead to me for years.
there’s no such thing as a good time to change your name when you’re in the second half of your thirties, but there is such a thing as a least bad time, and this is as “least bad” as it’s going to get.
for years, my problem was just not knowing the name that felt right. that hit me three years ago, a name i thought felt right, but i’m also a person petrified by making Important Decisions. Important Decisions are for Important People, not for people who are supposed to make way, not supposed to demand anything out of anyone. i’ve already demanded enough from this world by being in it and being completely unable to make myself disappear.
but i can’t exist in this world under my birth name, under the name that has been dying for years, and suffocating me as it dies. i’m tired of being scared to tell people to call me something else, even though i’ve known for three years, i’ve tossed around the name in my head, i’ve told a handful of people, and it still feels right.
i’m still scared to tell everyone my name, because what kind of a flake, or an attention vacuum, or a downright annoyance, changes their name when they’re this old?
this is also the kind of thinking that kept me in the closet for two years between realising i was bisexual at age 19, and actually telling people at age 21. this was twenty years ago. i’m still bisexual, and have no regrets about coming out as such.
maybe i should take this as a hint that i can make good decisions about my own identity, even if i make such bad decisions about so many other things in my life. maybe this is the silver lining, the “wisdom” part of being an amalgam of sorrows?
i’m also tired of keeping this huge secret from so many people. i’m tired of being called a name from which i feel alienated, especially when i actually have something that feels like me. i’m tired of introducing myself to people by a name that i’ve been steeling myself to destroy. i’m tired of disengaging from things, and from people, because i’m waiting for the right time to be something more myself.
as little as my life means in the grand scheme of things, it’s where i’m stuck, and i’ve run out of the energy and motivation to pretend to relate to a name that may not belong to anyone else, but certainly doesn’t belong to me.
i’m rowan anderson ward. please call me that.