This afternoon, I made the long drive out East to the FAA offices at Denver International Airport to have my name changed on my Airmen’s Certificate. It’s hard to explain, but as I drove… and drove… and drove… I began to feel happier and lighter. I began to feel I was about to close the final door on who I had been and open the door to who I truly am. This may not make much sense to people who have never HAD to change their name or for those who willingly choose to keep a new name. But for me, this is huge.
When I married I was satisfied with adding my husband’s name to mine. Funny thing about young American men, (I can’t speak for others) is they like to put their names on everything and actually get a little bent out of shape when their wives choose not to accept their names with their wedding vows. My ex was no different and whined for months that I didn’t drop my last name. For the length of our marriage at least once a year he would say how much he hated my last name. And even when the divorce papers were ready to be signed, he complained that I was taking my name back. After the abuse he delivered I couldn’t understand why he would expect me to keep his name. But that is a whole different story of sociopaths and cuckoos. He was not the same man I had married near 8 years earlier.
As soon as I had the judges signature on my divorce decree, I immediately raced to the DMV to have my driver’s license changed. The clerk actually laughed when she saw the date of the signature. Yes, the marriage became THAT bad. I needed something that said I was me again. The smile on my Driver’s License lit up the building.
Today as I walked into the FAA office with my divorce decree and driver’s license, I was nearly vibrating with energy. It was contagious. The security perked up and everyone started laughing and telling jokes. I told them I needed to change the name on my Airmen’s Certificate and I could tell they assumed it was due to a marriage. After all, I was giddy with joy. The security guard congratulated me on my name change and then stopped. “I mean, I hope it’s a good thing?”
I smiled. “No worries. I lost 300 pounds and couldn’t be happier.”
It took everyone a split second and then the lobby erupted in laughter as they continued to congratulate me. Yes, I was excited. I was reclaiming a huge part of my identity. Something I was long before I had ever met my ex husband. No I didn’t have the certificate before I married him, but I have always been a pilot. The sky has always been paramount to me. The passion for flight is in my soul in a way he could never have understood. His jealousy of my ability to fly was not unknown.
When finally the FAA Administrator came down to escort me to the records office, I was ready to race. Every step we took to the office felt slower than the last. We talked about the vast empty space around DIA and the strangely cold weather before finally reaching the desk with the forms.
As requested, I showed him my divorce decree with the statement, “The Wife’s name shall be restored to ZYOLA T MIX.” and the judges signature flagged for easy finding. He laughed, “You definitely are a pilot. Every pilot who comes in for a name change flags their documents. Left over from the first checkride I assume.” Once the forms were completed to change my name, he handed the documents over to the receptionist who painstakingly reviewed and retyped everything into the system.
During this time, he starts asking me about flying in Hawai`i and if I’d flown in Denver yet. He says he trained in Florida and when he moved to Colorado, it took a lot of adjustment. The term “Density Altitude” came up and we both laughed. Yes, at sea level, density altitude is only in the training books. It’s not a real phenomenon. He told me his biggest problem with the change in altitude was the roll. No more short finals or quick take offs. I mentioned, I’d have trouble judging altitude as well, I’m sure.
Finally, the receptionist was done and handed my new “temporary” certificate to the FAA Admin who reviewed it and handed it to me for review. “If it’s correct, sign here.”
I was so happy to see MY NAME finally listed as a Private Pilot. I signed and handed it back to him. He smiled, signed it and said, “Well, Miss Mix, you are legal to fly.”
Woohoo!!! So exciting. He escorted me back to the security desk and bid me “Blue skies!”
Sure, for some it’s just a name. For me, my name is who I am. I have great respect for my name and have always made it my bond. To regain my name on a document that is so important to me is a giant step. I am reclaiming myself. My abusive ex is no longer maintaining control over the important aspects of my life. And now his name will no longer overshadow my achievement.
My name is Zyola T Mix, and I AM A PILOT!
(The name of the FAA Admin has been ommitted, because, well, that’s what you do right?)