I have legally had three surnames throughout my life. No, I have never been married, nor have I been on the run from the cops….well, maybe one time, but that is a totally different article. I went from “Christian Marc Calabro”, to “Christian Marc Komuves” (pronounced Kuh-MOO-Vess), to simply, “Christian Marc.” To say it confused and was misunderstood by some of my friends from back home would be an understatement. I didn’t know until recently that no one really knew why I did it. I had to explain 15 years after the fact that yes, you can change your name and your destiny.
I believe that by changing my name I was in some way changing the outcome of my life, or what most people refer to as their destiny. Some people ask “What’s in a name?” and that’s when I refer them to the many articles on the web that have been written about people who changed their last name to change their luck, not to mention the thousands of people who immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island and were given different last names because someone didn’t know how to spell them correctly. Although some people believe that last example is a myth, creating my destiny went a little bit differently than someone leaving the “ski” off of “Halinski.“
After my father passed in 1979, my mom remarried in the early 80s and my step-father thought it would be nice if he legally adopted my sister and I and we all had the same last name. To me it seemed like a good idea at the time, but then again, what the hell did I really know at six years old? I certainly was unaware of the fact that even at six, my destiny was about to be changed forever. “Komuves” was constantly misspelled, egregiously mispronounced, and totally misrepresented my Italian heritage, yet I lived with that last name well past the time when my step father turned into a no-show and disappeared somewhere into the state of Indiana.
Throughout high school, I was known as Chris Komuves. With that last name came self-inflicted years of stupid decisions, thousands of wasted dollars, and a reputation that I feel I am still trying to live down to this day. It almost felt like the name was carrying with it a curse of some sorts, or perhaps that was just my perception years after the fact. My friends would get very creative by adding the prefix “Kuh” to basically any observation from my life, and therein was born a new string of nicknames that could be ever changing like the many cars I had bought and sold in the 90s without making a profit. Thus for a short time I was known as “Kuh-Nine cars.”
These nicknames, based on my dumb last name would continue throughout my life, but they really didn’t bother me because I knew they were all in good fun. Still, I hated the fact that I had to grow up in my teen years without a father and with some “DB’s” last name attached to my first and middle name for the rest of my life. (and “DB” could stand for douchebag OR for deadbeat.) Because I kept fucking up in my late teens and early 20s, I needed someone to blame aside from myself, so I blamed my name.
“Would you be happy if you were born with the last name ‘Hitler?'”
After all, my step father fucked up so perhaps the same was happening to me because of the fact that I was associated with him. I know this might be a silly theory to believe in, but if your name is “Robert Manson” the first thing you might assume is that Robert must be just as, if not slightly less evil than his father, Charles. I mean, would you be happy if you were born with last name “Hitler”? Probably not, right? I felt like I couldn’t get out of the shadow of my own last name, and I vowed one day I would change it.
In the summer of 2000, I moved from New Jersey to Seattle, and I got hired at the Olive Garden in Lynnwood. The manager asked me a very interesting question during my interview that would ultimately change my life forever.
“We already have a server here who goes by Chris. Would you mind if we all called you Christian?”
Now, I had been born with the name Christian, but the only person who called me by my full first name was my mom, and when she did it, it was usually screamed at me from some part of the house in a state of anger and frustration, as in: “CHRISTIAN!!! CLEAN UP YOUR TRANSFORMERS NOW!!!”
As I sat there in the booth with my new boss, I pondered what he just asked me, and I suddenly saw an opportunity take a fork in the road, which I hoped would change my destiny as a person.
“Sure. You can call me Christian.” I said.
“I was essentially creating a new character for myself.”
All of a sudden, I realized that by having people in Seattle call me Christian, I essentially was creating a new character for myself. No longer would I be “Chris from New Jersey” who was an unappreciative dick in life and who got himself fired from almost every job he held. I would be known as “Christian” from here on out, and Christian didn’t have any negative history yet. It was like getting a new identity. I declared bankruptcy on Chris, and opened a new line of credit in the name of Christian.
For the next two years I lived my new life in the pacific northwest with my new name, and my new destiny in front of me. Because I was being called by a different name, I felt like it was easier for me to make better choices in my life that represented the best of who I am. Granted, it wasn’t like it magically happened over night, but I believed that the easiest way to change my fate was to change my habits and thinking of myself as “Christian” made it more of a reality to me than if I kept hearing people call me “Chris.”
In 2002, I moved back to the east coast where it was pretty obvious no one other than my immediately family and two of my friends were keen on the idea of calling me by a different name.
“I’m not calling you Christian.” Mickey said to me one day.
I didn’t understand this resistance some of my friends had to calling me by my full first name. I get it now, but back then I was so high on my proverbial horse that I thought if they keep calling me Chris, I’m gonna wind up making the same mistakes I made before and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. I still felt like I was able to re-invent myself in my own mind, but apparently, calling yourself by a different name doesn’t always change the behavior of the person you are, as I was fired from BOTH the jobs I held in Seattle, however maybe it had SOMETHING to do with it as those were last two times I was ever fired from a job again.
I wasn’t in NJ very long before I decided that I was going to move to Los Angeles, by way of a short nine month stay over in Las Vegas. However, there was one thing I needed to take care of before I headed back to the west coast. I needed to drop that “Komuves” like a bad habit.
On May 22nd of 2002, I was granted a legal name change by the Camden County Courthouse to “Christian Marc. ” No more Komuves curse, no more mispronunciation or misspelled mail, and no more middle name. It’s been that way for 14 years now. Changing my name, changed the way people perceived me, and that in turn changed the way I perceived myself. It is a good mindset to be in when you see yourself in terms of your possibilities, and not your limitations. That’s what changing your destiny is all about.
A few days ago, I had to explain all of this to my friends back home. I guess they never really knew why I chose to change my name, or maybe they thought it was a pompous or self indulgent act to suggest they call me by anything else other than Chris, or Komuves, or sometimes Roach, which was a nickname I wanted for myself, but never really caught on. I think I dodged a bullet with that last one.
Truth is, I didn’t like who I was when I was Chris Komuves. I made a lot of mistakes, and I hurt a lot of people, and I didn’t want that to be my legacy. I’ve really grown attached to Christian Marc. First of all, it’s a good sounding name, it never gets mis spelled or pronounced incorrectly, and since I’ve been calling myself that, I have tried to do and say things that reflect honesty, creativity, and responsibility. Those are three qualities that I don’t think I ever could say about Chris Komuves.
Some people still call me Chris, or Komuves, or one of the many other nicknames I’ve had over the years. For example, The official title of my 40th birthday party last week was “The Christian Chris Roach Calabro Marc Komuves 40th Birthday Jamboree.”
That made me laugh because even though I don’t go by half of those names anymore, I have to accept that they are still a culmination of me in the present day. Did I change my destiny by changing my names? I think I did, but it wasn’t just as simple as being called Christian instead of Chris. It’s an ongoing process that requires me to say what I mean and have my actions reflect what I mean. And in the spirit of that logic, I can now say that after forty years on this earth and three different social security cards, I finally have figured out who I am, regardless of what name they may call me.