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New name, same face

Flashback to the early 1990s. A stern voice echoes through my childhood home, “Jessica Lynn Larsen!”

It sends a shiver down my spine.

Whenever my mom or dad used my full name, I knew I was in trouble. In most cases, it was just after my big sister told on me for hitting her, teasing her or making some sort of jumbled mess of her beloved books.

Still to this day, hearing my full name gives me flashbacks to those days, a shiver down the spine.

But I hold that name no more. And with the change, I decided to go all out: first and last. (No, there isn’t a new Dispatch reporter)

I was married April 5 at Pine Peaks Event Center in Crosslake, which accounts for the new last name of Perrine.

As for my first name, I’ll shorten it up a bit to Jessie. When I was hired on a year ago at the Dispatch, my predecessor went by Jessi as well, so I wanted to avoid any confusion.

But at the same time, having people call me Jessica sent flashbacks of childhood and a mischievous little girl stirring up trouble and always getting caught.

So, please, next time you see me, call me Jessie. Unless you want to spark those childhood flashbacks. Then by all means, you now hold a lot of power in your words.

During most of my college and post-college life, I never pictured myself walking down the aisle. I thought it would cause me to lose part of who I am.

I even joked with my now husband that he should take my last name. He didn’t think it was funny. Neither did my now father-in-law.

We’re so attached to our names, our legal identity.

Today, though, I realize we are all so much more than just a name.

We are our family. Our traditions. Those silly inside jokes told between a close-knit group of people.

This realization came to me the day before my wedding. On my 10th cup of coffee and about one step before a stress-induced breakdown, my family started arriving in town. (Most from the Winona area)

That extreme tension dwindled, at least for a few moments, as I spent time with my brothers and sisters.

My brothers and I swapped stories of the fights we won and lost. (I, of course, won more) My sisters and I retold the stories of the card game and soda “parties” we had, unbeknownst to our parents. And I had some heart-to-heart conversations with both my parents, step-parents and now in-laws.

Later that night, when my step-dad and the best man noticed the crazed stress look return to my eyes, they pulled me aside and made me a promise: If at any time someone or something was getting to me, just give them the nod and they would take care of it.

In that moment I knew that I will never lose any part of who I am, even as I exchanged the Larsen for the Perrine.

In reality, I just gained a whole new addition to my family. More people to create memories with. More people to laugh with.

For that reason, I’m lucky.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at