What’s in a Name, Trick Rider?

It appears that I may have confused some of you by changing my identity. With all due respect, get used to it.

I’ve now lived longer as a Murrison than I did with any other name. You’ve known me in Spokane, Prosser, Snelling, La Grange, Tuolumne, and Idaho as a Murrison. I’ve traveled, gone to church, labored in local, regional, and state government, held elected office, and been a member of Merced Horsemens, Backcountry Horsemen, and lots of other groups as a Murrison. Never a Torell. I didn’t know I was a Mills too until after my 50th birthday. I’m the sum total of all of them.

Murrison’s a great name and I’m pleased to have been grafted into that family through marriage. Our daughter grew up a Murrison. From kindergarden at Hickman Charter School through her senior year at Summerville High School, that was who she was. Who we were. I haven’t changed my name to minimize or negate any of that.

Rather, there was a me before I was a Murrison and that me wants to live and wants to speak. It’s a me that has been lost everywhere but in some old Facebook posts. A me that was melded with the me I became for a very long season but now asserts the pre, present, and post existence of Teri Torell.

What’s in a name that I should want to reclaim it?

To some degree it’s identity. I have several of those. I am the daughter of Marie Mills Hendrickson. I have two brothers, their families, and some pretty great cousins. Though I never met them until I was an adult, I belong to the Mills family via genetics and the free will of a loving birth mother.

I am also Rosemary and Don Torell’s adopted daughter, a sister, aunt, cousin, niece, and granddaughter. Over the years Don, Rosemary, and their generation have gone on. I don’t reclaim the Torell name to lay claim to familial connections, but to reestablish a connection to the aggregate of who I am.

I was a Torell during my formative years. Teri Torell was a little girl and young woman with big dreams (only some of which have yet materialized). When I married the Professor I was only too ready to shed who I had been for who I would be – maybe a little too ready in retrospect.

So Teri Murrison was a caretaker for my dreams (and authored new ones), but it turns out who I had been was also important. Teri Murrison’s identity doesn’t fully permit the reemergence of Teri Torell. So as a writer, I am now both.

I’ve changed my name as a testimony- mostly to myself – that this is my turn, urged on by the Professor to step aside from that person everyone expects (and expected) me to be. To explore my options. How blessed I am that I don’t have to leave who I became in order to find other parts of myself again.

What’s in a name? I am.

Like a Trick Rider atop two steady, trusted horses, I’ve got one foot in Torell and the other in Murrison. Their movements synchronized, they now propel me forward.

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