Design your life or someone else will

My partner and I were riding our bikes through the park this past weekend when I heard someone shout, “Hey SOUNDS!” It was a friend we hadn’t seen in awhile; we stopped and got to reconnect with him and his partner. When we rode away, I felt a sense of gratitude for the life my partner and I live; the connections we have; the decisions we’re making in our lives—and I felt pride because we’re intentional about designing our partnership and marriage the way that feels right for us.

The fact that our friend was able to shout, “Hey SOUNDS,” is because that’s our last name. When we got married, we talked about how we wanted to have the same last name, as a symbol of our partnership and unity. Traditionally, I would have taken my partner’s last name, or we would have combined and hyphenated our last names. But those options weren’t right for us, because the former seemed antiquated and the latter seemed like a mouthful. I’m not a huge fan of leftovers, and to me, hyphenating our last names seemed like taking what was already made and ready to go, mixing it together and living with leftovers as my last name ‘till death do us part.

My partner and I decided to choose our own last name. Why not? I loved choose your own adventure books when I was little and I’m wired to thrive from creative challenges. We played around with the letters from our former last names and didn’t come up with anything we loved, so we decided to go the route of choosing a last name that was related to our livelihoods. My partner makes structurally sound puzzle boxes and mechanical furniture; I give sound advice to individuals so they can identify their passion and purpose. Sound felt like a name we could grow into together. And for the past three years, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

For me, our last name symbolizes living an examined life, whether that means examining old traditions or examining the way my day-to-day living reflects my values. Living an examined life is not fun or easy, but it’s something I feel compelled to do. Like making stovetop popcorn every night. But that’s another story. 

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