First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.
“What last name is the booking under?” the travel operator asks me.
“Glauberzon or Fazekas?” I seriously can’t remember. Is it under my maiden or married name? This type of confusion has been happening daily over the past year, even though I’ve been married for the last seven.
Sometimes, I’ll try and make a joke of the confusion. “I can’t decide if I’m married or single today, it depends on the day.” At times, the person on the other end of the line laughs. Other times, they don’t. They just raise a brow and likely wonder, “Is this woman on her way to divorce?”
The confusion happens with bookings for flights, hotels and restaurants. Even the loan office.
One trip to the U.S. got particularly hairy for me. I booked a flight under Glauberzon, my maiden name, but realized at the last minute my passport was under Fazekas. When I called the booking agent to update the name on my flight, they required a marriage certificate. Who remembers where they have placed that piece of paper? It took me over a week to prove I was both – Olivia Glauberzon and Olivia Fazekas.
My surname amnesia started about a year ago. Before then, my last name was a straightforward matter. I was a happily married woman who always used my husband’s last name – Fazekas.
Glauberzon, my maiden name, had always been a sticking point for me, especially growing up. Spelling out all 10 letters for telephone operators. The years of kids at school calling me “the Glaub.” With my big frizzy medusa curls I did, in fact, feel like a big messy glob. More than anything, my last name screamed out my Russian-Jewish upbringing, which was different from that of my classmates.
As I came into my own in my 20s, I became a writer, learned how to style my curls, and my relationship with my last name started to shift. It became my byline when I published my first article in a newspaper and ventured into journalism. I wasn’t afraid to ask politicians and senior executives tough questions. It was also the name I travelled abroad with while working on a cruise ship. Glauberzon represented a fearless version of me.
Yet, when I married I couldn’t wait to change my name on my official ID fast enough. Fazekas – it’s only seven letters! It’s cleaner. A more settled version of me. Around the same time, I left journalism, I went corporate and Fazekas became the name I used professionally. At this time, I also stopped riding big roller-coasters and driving on highways. The Glauberzon version of me went into hiding.
It was only when I had my first baby that something snapped and it wasn’t my female body parts. Motherhood had me questioning everything about who I was and the sacrifices I had made to get there. First with my body, alcohol and coffee while I was pregnant. Then, losing out on sleep and my paycheque to stay home with my baby. I started to wonder about the old fearless me: Was she so bad? Why did I rush to get away from her? What was so wrong with my maiden name after all?
Within months, I started working out again. And this led me to the beginning of a maternity-leave side hustle: I started my own maternity activewear line.
My husband was baffled. He never knew this entrepreneurial side of me. He’s an actuary and extremely risk-adverse. Yet, my inner Glauberzon had been lurking there all along and like a jack in the box, all it took was sweating buckets trying to breastfeed in a regular sports bra for her to pop out.
I registered the corporation under my maiden name. It felt like the right move considering how reluctant he was with the whole idea. I needed Glauberzon to bring back that fearless part of me, the one who could drive on highways and ride roller-coasters, especially since every clothing factory in Toronto is off the highway and I wasn’t about to ask my hubby for a lift.
Olivia Fazekas became the wife, the mom and corporate team player when I went back to work. Meanwhile, Olivia Glauberzon became the innovator, go-getter and nighttime entrepreneur working on a made-in-Canada maternity line after her kids went to bed.
Then, COVID and lockdown. Worlds collided. My husband saw that corporate Olivia Fazekas struggling at a rigid bank job, where everything was defined and static.
Eventually, I got his Fazekas blessing to go for it: to stop side-hustling your career dream and make it a real one.
The stats of staying married and entrepreneurship do not agree. I get it. Starting After9 has tested our marriage. My business takes me away from my family and the working capital required to keep it going has been a drain on our family savings.
For a long time, I resented my husband and his resistance to my entrepreneurial journey. One year into operating my business full-time, I’m glad he’s here, always tracking the numbers. I hate numbers. And if it weren’t for my husband’s full-time job, I’d have no financial support to keep it going.
I was fearless in my 20s with my maiden name, but starting this business in the height of the pandemic also required me to be fearless in my marriage.
You might ask, why can’t you just hyphenate? Glauberzon-Fazekas. Seventeen letters, 18 characters. Two z’s. The thought of spelling that out made me balk at the idea.
If only I didn’t have to choose one name. I would create my own: Fazekerzon. That’s 10 letters long and a perfect marriage of the identities – fearless and settled at the same time.
For now, filing paperwork for an original last name is just another level of administration I don’t have time for. For my business, I’ll remain Glauberzon. But I will also try to remember that the responsible stuff – the travel bookings, my bank loan – is under Fazekas. It’s quicker for others to spell anyway.
Olivia Glauberzon lives in Toronto.