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Hannah is a the author of Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen. She lives in New York City.

The Name Change Dilemma

Illustration by Homestead Studio

Hannah Howard | Longreads | November 2019 | 10 minutes (2,420 words)

Although Tony speaks with an elegant English accent and I with a prosaic American one, although I am a writer and he works in business doing things with spreadsheets that I can’t even begin to comprehend, although he grew up Anglican and I grew up Jewish, and although Tony’s parents are from Uganda and a small island off the south coast of England and mine are from the Bronx and Queens, respectively, when it comes to both everyday decisions and big life things we are usually on the same page.

We both love New York with an obstinate devotion. Recently our friends have started to move to the suburbs. We both give a polite smile when they share the news. Then back in the safety of our one-bedroom, which becomes an inferno in the winter because it’s an old NYC apartment, we make gagging noises and giggle. The suburbs may be nice for other people, but we like it right here.

We both always want to get an extra order of short ribs at our favorite barbeque place in Koreatown and splurge for the fancy bubbly any time we can think of a half-decent excuse. We want to travel the world. We want to live in Brooklyn Heights, in a brownstone overlooking the promenade, after I sell the movie rights to my future bestseller or we win the lottery.. Manhattan will sparkle across the East River. For now, we walk around Brooklyn until the soles of our feet begin to hurt, and choose our favorite blocks. We have so many favorites we lose track.

Last September, we got married.

We agreed on so much, as usual. My parents consented to a pig roast even though we are Jewish. We decided to have the ceremony in their back yard by the Delaware River, where Pennsylvania meets New Jersey, and the party under a tent. There would be fairy lights and a band that got everyone dancing. There would be really good food.

We looked into fireworks, but the price tag shocked us. Who needs fireworks? We didn’t need fireworks.

Reader, the night was magic. Tony’s family came from England and Denmark, and mine came from Baltimore and South Dakota, and friends came from everywhere. There was no feeling like walking out into the backyard and seeing all the people I love in the world, their soft smiles and flowy dresses. My heart exploded into heart dust.

The sun peeked out of cotton ball clouds right as we said our vows under the chuppah my dad had built for us. The river was right beside us, and we made another river of happy tears.

Even though my strapless dress had been tailored not once or twice but three times, my best friend Ursula still had to safety pin my bra into its stiff fabric. Miraculously, it stayed up the whole night.

Our friend Leigh made us a cheese platter and a lemon cake with strawberry jam and buttercream frosting. Our friend Rena wrote us a poem. We had not just delicious-for-a-wedding but actually delicious food. The music was so electric that our friends and family spilled off the dance floor, out of the tent and into the night. The moon’s reflection danced on the river.
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