|The origin of Kurt (or, A Dave by any other name...)
||[Sep. 14th, 2008|03:37 pm]
|||||42-Coldplay-Viva La Vida||]|
So, recently, I've found some of the friends I went to elementary school with through Facebook, and one of the things I was asked about was the name change. As most of you know, I was born David Onstad, but later decided to be known as Kurt. So, the story of when and why.
Names have always been important to me. Even when I was a kid, I was "Dave" and not "David". This was one of the ways that I was able to distinguish from the (many) other Davids in my circle. When I got about midway through high school, I was getting less and less happy with Dave as a name. I guess part of it was that I was not very happy with who I was as a person, and I wanted to somehow reinvent myself. A name change seemed like the easiest way to kind of start over. Now, the question was, who was I going to be?
It quickly came down to two choices: Elijah and Kurt. Elijah was inspired by the main character of Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel books. Although, not being a biblical scholar, I was actually pronouncing the name in my head like it was Spanish (with the J making an H noise). I actually sympathize much more with Daneel Olivaw (yes, the robot), but Daneel wasn't far enough away from David for me.
Kurt, which I (obviously) chose, is a bastardization of my middle name, Curtis. I didn't want to just take my middle name, as that would be following too much in my mother's footsteps (her legal name is Leslie, but goes by Sue). Also, Curtis Onstad is my grandfather's name, and although I never met him (he died before my parents even met), I didn't feel right claiming his name as my own. Finally, by changing it up from Curt to Kurt, it also allows me to acknowledge my bit of German ancestry, in addition to the Norwegian (obvious from my last name).
Of course, in high school, no one was going to let me get away with a sudden name change for no apparent reason. So, I waited, and when I graduated from high school and went off to college, I simply told the people I met, "Call me Kurt." I didn't have that many people who I stayed in touch with after high school, so there were very few people who needed to make any adjustment (although because of those few, I got some weird nicknames during that time period). Now the only people who still call me Dave or David on any regular basis are my family (although most of them try hard to call me Kurt in front of me), and solicitors. I've never legally changed my name, so business-people only know David as my name, making it much easier to screen out the calls I don't want.
So, the big question is, did it work? Am I the new person I wanted to be back in high school? Overall, I'd say so. I'm much more happy with the person I am now, for the most part. And while the name change wasn't a magic fix-all that removed all of the bad traits I wanted, it was a nice break point to help inspire some of the changes I did make.