Family Values

How do you know?

That’s the question I haven’t yet been asked and probably won’t, but in my romantic notions, it’s a question I think I should answer. And I can’t, really. I mean, I have some grand idea that this could be a blog outlining my concept of why I believe in love, why I believe that this can work. But there is no way you can write that in a blog.

‘Values’ is one of those words that makes me cringe, since it’s meaning, like Jesus Christ, has been stolen from the people who deserve it and given to crappy old Republicans. But in order for a relationship to work, you have to value the same things. If you find a woman who is crafty and hard working, that doesn’t mean anything unless you value those qualities. It doesn’t mean that you both love God, it could mean that you both don’t. But you have to share the same priorities when it comes to behavior.

We were having a little discussion last night at my birthday dinner. Jordana is changing her last name to mine and Tessa is not changing her last name to Ian’s. I’m not sure why the discussion lasted as long as it did, but I did find myself, drunk off my ass, trying to put into words why it is so important to me. There are several reasons, primarily because I want Jordana and I to have the same last name, but also because I want to share that name with my expansive immediate family and with the rest of America who have that name. It is exciting to me, not limiting, to have the most common surname in the United States. There is another Shawn Williams in the cast of my show, a black guy who grew up in New York has my homophonic name, that is so awesome.

And also my ex-wife never took my name. Because she felt it was giving in to the patriarchy. I didn’t press it, but I did point out that I wasn’t fighting for the patriarchy, that I want Vijay Sing to lose in the masters this weekend, that I was donating my time to Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill, that I had campaigned for the ERA in Iowa, and that I just wanted us to have the same last name as my mom. But the fact that she never changed it became an indication of her need to satisfy a political ideal over wanting to be part of a family with me.

That, by the way, is not why Tessa isn’t changing hers. She is older than I am and has built a public identity as ‘Blake’ that adds so much to here private identity. I mean, I think she too would fight the patriarchy, but I don’t think that’s why she’s doing this.

In any case, at some point far back in our relationship, Jordana and I both realized that she wanted to change her name because she knew I wanted it. She is politically savvy, but our value system is based as much on wanting to give the difficult gift to one another as it is on the importance of laughing during sex. At some point, I think we might not be getting married if this was something we didn’t agree on. There would have been a moment, years ago, when it would have broken us up. Not this particular matter, but the underlying value systems that lead us to this.

And that’s why I know this time it’s right, or at least as right as I can see right now.