Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!
When I was in college I worked part-time for a travel agency. It was such a fun place to work as a 20-year-old, booking flights and exciting trips for people (even got a big discount on my honeymoon!). The owner was an older gentleman (he was probably 45 years old at the time but that was old to a 20-year-old co-ed!) who could not remember my name and just called me “Little Honey” after my initials “LH”… so “Little Honey” I was! “LH” also stood for Leslie Holcomb, my name for the first 22 years of my life. Then, in August of 1980, “Little Honey” became Leslie Madigan for the next 39 years.
“Never let your fear decide your future.”
About a year ago I realized that several of my friends, including my younger sister, had reclaimed their maiden names after going through a divorce. Started me thinking about what I wanted to do with my name. Reached out to one divorced college friend to ask why she changed her name back. Her answer was simple: she was no longer that person. Hit me between the eyes. I am no longer that person either. So what to do? Should I reclaim my maiden name? Discussed it with my sisters, who were all for it, my kids who supported it, and several friends, all were for it except one who told me, “I’ve only known you as Leslie Madigan.” But that’s not who I am now… This was a big decision, emotionally and logistically. One I did not take lightly (considering it took me a year!). Decision? Return to my roots! It’s a big process, one that includes a judge, the social security office, and the dreaded DMV (thankfully I took a book – I was there for 2+ hours!).
“I lost my husband in my divorce. I gained MYSELF.”
So here I am – back where I started 39 years ago – Leslie Anne Holcomb, and y’all, it is very freeing and feels like a whole new beginning. ME! SOLO! I felt a bit of this same freedom in 2016 when I went to DMV to change my car title to my name only, and got a new, generic license plate. MADIGAN had been my license plate for over 25 years, beginning in NC and continuing when we moved to VA. And in one day, I had a generic license plate and it felt good. A step toward a new future SOLO. Freaked out my co-workers who thought some jerk had parked in MY prize parking space, since my car no longer “said” MADIGAN. (I get to work early and always park in the spot at the end of the row where I can pull through – I am a terrible parker, just saying!)
“Strong women don’t have attitudes, we have standards.”
But y’all, the most ironic thing happened while making this big change. Remember the blog “Good Day Sunshine” where I visited Kiawah Island to look at wedding venues with my son and his fiancée and her family exactly 39 years after arriving there for my honeymoon? Ironic, right? Well… when I got home from that trip, the judge’s decree changing my name had arrived in my mailbox. I took a deep breath and opened it, thinking, this is now real. Then I looked at the date the judge signed it and made the change legal, and it was… yep… August 9, 2019… exactly 39 years after my name changed from Holcomb to Madigan. Can’t make this up. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe in signs. And as my kids said, this gives me a new reason to celebrate August 9th. A whole new beginning y’all! Of course, it’s also a whole new beginning of changing my name at my banks, on my passport, library card (important!), bills…. Not sure it ever ends!
“And suddenly you know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
So what’s the first thing I did as Leslie Anne Holcomb? Took a road trip south to see my mom. Did not tell her about the name change, knew it would be too confusing. But I knew. Then I met a girlfriend for lunch and shared with her that I had pulled the trigger on my name change. She was excited for me – she knew I was considering it. Wrapped it up with an outdoor concert with my sister and brother-in-law to see Eric and the Chilltones, a great local band performing 60’s, 70’s, Earth Wind & Fire, James Taylor, and lots of beach music – Catalinas, Tams, Chairman of the Board, you name it! Realized it is hard to Shag (dance!) SOLO. And even with a bottle of wine between us, couldn’t get anyone up to dance. Next time! Funny, for August 24th, it was CHILLY! My trusty ACAC fleece blanket got put to good use. Ran into an “old” high school friend at the concert and shared my name change with her. Felt really good to tell people. My new, yet old identity.
“At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth, or step back into safety.” Abraham Maslo
This past week has been fun and full. Mailman delivered my new driver’s license and social security card, which was a bit sobering, yet exciting. It’s real. Have come full circle back to “LH,” not “Little Honey,” but Leslie Holcomb, a name I have loved for 61+ years. Drove to Richmond to take my older daughter’s 6:15 am cycle class. Got to see my mom and family and a couple of good friends. Met someone I have not seen in years for drinks and dinner, and 3 ½ hours later parted ways with plans to repeat. As I shared with said person, who is also experiencing the SOLO life, I keep busy and let life lead me. And life is leading me on a wonderful path, discovering who I am and what I want out of life. How about you? Is your life leading you on the path you want? Find that path and find it soon, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.
“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
PS My name change came at a convenient time as well. I had my annual CPR certification for work this week. Yes, I passed for another year, just hoping I never have to use it! But if I do, I am certified as Leslie Holcomb. One less thing to change my name on! And it felt good to sign my name Leslie Holcomb!