Friday, September 14, 2007

What’s in a name?

My farewell column in today's Ledger & Times

There is much in a name.

And, just for the record, mine is spelled K-R-I-S-T-I-N. But that’s not always what I’ve been called.

My elementary school label of “Mr. Hill’s daughter” wore off as I grew older. But growing up in Oldham County with a principal as a father and a teacher as mother, it was pretty well known that my dad was an elementary school principal.

In middle school, I started developing a slightly independent identity. But then in high school my aunt was my English teacher both my junior and senior years. I never addressed her by name because I wasn’t sure whether to call her Aunt Carolyn or Mrs. Godbey. Either way, other students knew I was “Mrs. Godbey’s niece.”

And so you know, I did get a B in Advanced Placement English at least one of the quarters. So I didn’t breeze through my relative’s class.

When I wasn’t deciding how to get my aunt’s attention those two years, I was probably in the newspaper office. I spent my senior year as The Clarion Colonel editor, a role that prompted another identity -- “Newspaper Editor” -- but more importantly served a springboard to college.

When I got to Murray State, hardly anyone knew my name. But I found The Murray State News.

I spent much time those four years learning about myself. Despite five years difference in age, my sister and I grew closer. I solidified my love for writing, especially to inform and educate. I made friends I intend to keep for my lifetime. And I met the man who would become my husband.

My collegiate roles were varied, and the labels fewer.

Eight months after I graduated from Murray State, I became Greg’s fiancée. And then six months after that, I changed my last name to Taylor.

We -- now collectively “The Taylors” -- spent our first year in Lexington, where we started finding our identity as a couple. Then we moved to Murray, where we’ve been the last four years.

Murray is his hometown, but it’s also the hometown of our relationship. This is where we met, and this is where we settled. We started our family here and made big decisions about our careers here.

During the past four years, I assumed another identity: “Kristin at the Ledger.” Since Sept. 8, 2003, I’ve written at least 2,175 stories. And that doesn’t include all the court news and police logs. I’ve laid out pages, taken pictures, answered more phone calls than I could even tally and filled in for my editor.

But most of the work in this job happens outside the office, building relationships and learning the community. I’ve covered 88 city council meetings and two murder trials. Each month, I’ve covered regular meetings at city hall, Murray State, Murray-Calloway County Hospital and CrimeStoppers. And along the way, I’ve kept up with criminal court cases and state politics.

Truth be told: I have liked this job, this identity, more than I ever thought I would. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way I became part of this community.

Even so, I’m going to replace my pen and notebook with toys that rattle and squeak, bottles, naptime and smiles that melt my heart. She’s only 4 months old, but she’s changed me.

I’m fully embracing my new identity as “Cate’s mom,” starting officially after I finish writing about the Board of Regents later today.

There is much in a name. But there is more to be said about purpose.

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