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 the past that I should want to keep?
To some degree it’s who I am – my identity. I have several of them. I am the daughter of Marie Mills Hendrickson and a birth father I’ve never met. I have a terrific plus-father, 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 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 writer’s jam as a testimony – mostly to myself – that this is my turn, urged on by the Professor to step aside from the person everyone thinks they know and expects me to be. To explore my options. How blessed I am that I can keep the best parts of who I became in order to rediscover the other parts of myself again.
What’s in a name? I am.