Names are a strange thing to me. My father changed his last name from a very ethnic Italian name to a boring American one. This was after he got married to my mother. Who claims it was entirely his decision and she has no idea why. She was wed under a different name. And the only reason I know this is because I was sitting in the room of an adoption agency when we were in the process of adopting one of my siblings. I was so young and I heard them asking my father about the name change. Of course I immediately asked what name change? When we got home he took me out alone on a drive. He told me in the Walmart parking lot. It was a completely legal name change, yet there was something so odd thinking about how I had never met anyone in his family. Funny thing is, I had never thought about it until then. And now every time I sign my name it feels fake. It has no authenticity. There is something very painful about it. I wish I hadn't known. And then I thought about how strange it would be to be adopted, not know your last name to begin with, then be given a fake one. It's all very baffling the emphasis we put on names, but I like that this made me think about that. At the end of the day, I'm still my father's daughter, whatever the reasons are I'll never know. I know my real last name and frequently late at night I surf the web looking for information about his family. But then I understand completely somehow that he must have reasons. I always wonder what it would take for me to want to cut ties with him and the rest of my family as he did with his. But that's a different very painful thought.

Polestina, Burlington, Vermont