Today, I finally had my court date to legally change my name! Despite all of my fears, it went so smoothly — a really fantastic experience (similar to the how well the paperwork went).
Even though I’ve been to name change court dates for a number of other people, and I know how the process worked, I was definitely worried last night, partly because I just tend to worry. I was the most worried about what I was going to wear — my mom insisted that a suit would be most appropriate, but I’m really not certain about whether any of my ties go well with either of my suits (and much of the internet seems to think that men in suits with no ties isn’t a good look).
However, I also worried about the little things — what if both my alarm clock and my cell phone’s alarm fail, and I miss my court date? What if I chose the wrong clothes, and I look ridiculous? What if my judge feels like being a jerk and gives me a hard time about why I want to change my name? What if my friend misses my court date (not that he’d ever do so on purpose, but things come up — people get sick, trains break down — and we can’t always keep our promises), and I’m all alone? Basically, what if something goes wrong?
I got to the Daley Center, up to the seventeenth floor, at 9:30 — exactly half an hour before I was supposed to be there, just as TJLP suggests. In the following thirty minutes, I read a book (The Revolution Will Not Be Funded) and tried not to freak out too much.
Luckily, my friend showed up before I went into the courtroom, and everything seemed less stressful. There are just some people who make me feel like everything’s going to be okay, and he’s definitely one of them, so it was absolutely lovely that he was there. Also, it was fantastic to have someone there who was excited for me and appeared confident that it would go well. And he knows all about the name change process, so he made sure that my papers were in order. Excellent. He also set to rest all of my worries about my fashion choices — once he arrived, everything just got better and better.
Once we entered the courtroom, my friend whispered that my judge was nice, which was reassuring. I managed to actually relax a little bit, instead of having to focus intently on not letting my hands shake out of nerves. My name was called, and I went up to before the judge, papers and ID in hand. The judge asked the typical question (ensuring that I’m not changing my name in order to commit fraud or identity theft) and then tried to make small talk (I think trying to make it be less intimidating), asking about where I’ve been living (Chicago, Minneapolis, Bryn Mawr) and what I’m doing (interning with a law project). He continued asking questions (which law project, whether it pays much) and finally signed my papers and let me go. It was kind of funny, actually.
Huge sigh of relief. The stress is over! I didn’t even need my passport (which I had as proof of citizenship, just in case they made a fuss over the fact that I wasn’t born in the U.S.). We took a couple of photos (my mom was insistent, not that it bothered me because I’m a big fan of photos), and then I made an excessive number of certified copies (just to be on the safe side) with one of the really nice clerks on the twelfth floor.
It was a really great experience, so much better than I’d expected. And now my chosen name and my legal name are the same!