A Change of Name

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

— Augustine Of Hippo

Today marks the end of a long chapter in my life. One that began over twenty years ago in August of ninety-nine. I was forty-two years old and sold, gave away or threw out all of my possessions with the exception of two bags of clothes, a laptop, a box of photographs and a clock radio and headed west to Vancouver. I was divorced, broken-hearted and still struggling to grow emotionally. More afraid of staying close to family and friends than leaving. Seeing my trauma for the cancer it was.

If you asked me why I left at the time, I secretly believed that there was a chance to rekindle a lost love. Ironically a love that was rooted in the soil I wished to remove myself from. And similarly rooted, was my desire to find some form of validation as an actor in the burgeoning west coast film industry.

When I arrived in Vancouver one of the first things I did was to travel to Pacific Rim Park, as far west as I could go … or as far away as I could get … in order to dip myself in the ocean. It was my ritual to cleanse myself from my past. I can still remember the feeling. It was magical. I felt as if I were being cradled by Mother Earth. The connection was nothing short of spiritual. Around the same time, I marked myself with a tattoo that read, “the mark of my tribe is fearless is” in a continuous band around my upper arm. But the most challenging thing I did was to legally change my name from Andrew Rukavina to Angelo Renai in an attempt to divorce myself from a family name that, for me, had scars deeper than any tattoo. I chose the name Angelo Renai because after forty odd years of initialling things I thought it would be a lot easier to keep it at “AR” and I liked that it made me personally accountable in my journey. Angelo Renai: Angel Reborn

All these memories came flooding back to me two months ago. In April of twenty-two, I posted a picture to my Facebook page of a sapling growing, seemingly impossibly, from a tree stump with the caption “No matter what happens in your life, you can start over”. I posted it because it struck a nerve with me and reminded me of everything I went through at the turn of the millenia, everything I have experienced since then and, most importantly, understand how I have grown. Within a day of posting that picture, I decided to once again change my name, but out of celebration and acceptance rather than pain and rejection. I wanted it to be rooted in the gratitude for that experience. Gratitude has become the cornerstone of my worldview. In being grateful I accept that there is something greater than myself. I don’t need to define it. Explain it. Prove it. I am simply grateful for everything in my life, every moment of my life. For all the people that were a part of my life. Including the man who’s name I was saddled with. In this gratitude, I have found peace. Even as I write these words, I do so in gratitude for being able to do so. Honestly, I wish I could bottle it. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do here, by writing a love letter to everyone I’ve ever known. To say thank you for helping me become someone I truly love in a way I headed west to find. And so as the ebb of these past twenty odd years becomes a flow, my name returns to one of familiarity, away from the pursuit of perfection. I have to live with the fact I’m not perfect. I’m just grateful that I recognize the imperfections are in the mirror.

I like the name “Andy Rukes”. I think it suits me. I feel like I’m finally home.

Here’s to a new beginning, a new chapter. And hopefully more, open, honest expression about that which I am truly grateful for, my life.

Thanks for reading,
Andy Rukes

4 Replies to “A Change of Name”

  1. Beautiful. I finally had the perfect moment to read this, laying on a blanket in a park with a dear friend where a band randomly showed up with their sax, drums and bass, playing similar music to that which I had recently listened to with you, Angelo. Life’s beautiful lessons about synchronicities and enjoying the present moment ♥️

  2. Andy, I was watching Trilogy New Dawn 1 when I saw you play the minister in the wedding scene. I did a double take and hit rewind several times to make sure. As usual I’m more than a decade late to things. Now I’ve found your blog and learned what you’ve been up to for the last 2+ decades. It’s good to see you.

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