the song remains the same
On Becoming Salcedo
Salcedo is the name Sarah's bisabuelo José brought with him from Ocotlán, Jalisco, much as Samudre is the name Vasant's father Vinay brought with him from Yavatmal, Maharashtra. Both of them treasure their Mexican and Indian heritage, and the people who brought those names to this country.
Recent events have caused them to rethink the traditional views of surnames and think of it as a team name instead of a tie to a pre-determined lineage. They decided to choose one name that wasn't so much dependent on their ancestry as it is on the person who'd put them on the path we're on today. Read below to find out why they're choosing to go forward as Vasant Samudre Salcedo and Sarah Samudre Salcedo.
A month and a half ago, I was on my way into Seattle to see my father-in-law in the hospital. The weather that day was typical Seattle: clouds of all shades with sun breaks and blue skies in between. The skies change quickly in the Pacific Northwest.
We're a moody city, not because it rains here all the time, it's the lack of predictability that throws us. We are constantly being asked to deal with change. It's amazing how many people who have lived here their entire lives are still caught off guard by the storms that knock out power, freeze roads, fell trees, sink roads, destroy homes... take lives. No matter how advanced our weather predictions get, Seattleites have this knack for being surprised and falling prey to being unprepared for extreme weather conditions, even when we have ample warning.
But not Dad.
Any time a storm hits, the wind and the rain push Seattleites into the nearest store to buy extra batteries, flashlights, water, food, etc. In the mean time, Dad typically has already installed power inverters, wired into three different car alternators with extension cords pulling power for the refrigerator, water line, and computers. Sitting in the garage are four full 5 gallon gas canisters to keep water flowing the fridge cold for days, because the thought of being without power in a blackout is absurd to Dad. He gets a kick out of being prepared, not just to take care of us, but all the neighbors around us as well.
And if he needed, the man could hang a tarp that could withstand 90 mph winds to shelter us all. It's actually one of his favorite things to do. I remember the last trip he went on, he had to tarp his camp site within a few hours because of unexpected rain and flooding, of which he proudly sent the family pictures which I still have on my phone.
I can't hang a tarp as well as he can. Or even tie the same kind of knots. He's shown me thousands of times. I actually get stressed out when he asks me to tie something down because it just takes me so much longer than if he were to just do it himself. But when I say the rope is tied down, he doesn't even look at it. He just knows my knots will hold. That's the kind of relationship we have and that is why I call him father.
As we were driving out of the I-90 tunnel on our way to his hospital bed, faced with the possibility of losing him, the rain hit my windshield suddenly and so heavily that everything in front of me disappeared into a blurry mess. In a split second, I couldn't see the car in front of me driving at 60 MPH, monsoon kind of rain. Was it me crying or the storm? I couldn't hear anything Sarah was trying to say to me, sitting right next to me. I didn't budge. The rain didn't scare me. Not seeing the car in front of me didn't scare me. The car starting to hydroplane on a bridge didn't scare me. Because my father taught me how to take on the storm.
It was Doug who taught me how to face the storm and tie a hitch knot that can hold a family together. He has shown me how to work hard and truly excel. He has taught me how to lay it all on the line and weigh the decisions a man must make.
It's why I'm taking his name. Facing the storms of life takes hard work, preparation, skill, and dedication. All of these things my father-in-law has passed on to Sarah and me.
I made the decision last year, but put it off because of the film. It took so much work and Sarah was hesitant to do the paperwork while we were trying to get the film finished. Then Dad had a heart attack, which caused a car accident. He died at the scene, but was revived and spent the next six weeks fighting to not just to hold on to his life, but to show us like he always does, how good he is at pulling through a storm.
As I sat at his beside with the rest of the family: praying he’d pull through, the excitement of being a Salcedo, and all he'd done to make that represent love, became engrained to my very core. The hard work Sarah and I put into our relationship is a direct reflection of the man Doug has been to his family, his friends, and colleagues. My first name, Vasant, is my grandfather's. My middle name will remain Samudre. I love my heritage and honor my father's sacrifice in all he went through to come from India and make my life and my sisters' lives secure here. Choosing a new name doesn't reject him anymore than Sarah being a Samudre for the last eleven years meant for her father. Salcedo is more than just Doug's last name for us. It means we want to live the way he lives.
I'm excited to show you all what that means.
- Vasant Samudre Salcedo
Salcedo is my maiden name. I was only 23 when I got married, so I didn't think about whether I was going to keep my name because I didn't think Vasant would take it, and I've always liked the idea of a unified surname. I want it on jerseys, I want it on mugs... it says a lot about my history in marketing because I see my name as my brand. People used to sing my name in school, "Sarah Sal-say-doh!" A choir teacher once told me my name was a piece of music. It hurt to give up, but I was looking forward to a new song to sing when I introduced myself. It didn't help that, when I changed my name at the DOL, the lady giving me my new license was also from Jalisco and accused me of walking away from my heritage. I was still a proud Latinx, but I didn't even ask Vasant to consider Salcedo.
You can read his exact reasons for changing his name above much more eloquently than this post, but Vasant came to the conclusion about a year ago that before our film debuted this fall, he wanted us to become Salcedos, to honor my father and all that he'd done: not just on the film, but because my dad is a man who constantly transcends the limits of who he has been, what he has done, the limits placed on him, and grows. Dad never stops believing that if one works hard, loves those around them, and gives of themselves, that they'll do incredible things. We have a film debuting this fall thanks to his tireless belief, but more than that: we believed we could do this through all the roughest parts of the last decade because we saw the example he set of love, determination, and a pick-yourself-up-off-the-floor attitude that was undiminishable.
There isn't a word exactly that rolls all those things that are my dad: the pragmatism and idealism that contradict and compliment themselves within him, so we chose Salcedo as the name to describe who we want to be, as filmmakers, as a couple, as ourselves. Salcedo also isn't the only name we take from him. From both my mom and my dad, we get the company name "Tall Firs" for their construction company they had started up only a few years before the 2008 real estate crash. Due to the economy and some business partners who split after the market fell, Mom and Dad lost their dream business. And yet, they never discouraged us from following our dreams. Even when they were discouraged and brokenhearted, they poured into us love and hope and as much support as they could muster.
Being Sarah Samudre Salcedo isn't exactly a return to my old name, as much as I see it as something new. My relationship with my parents hasn't always been a nice one. We're all made terrible mistakes with each other. But one of the things most people say about my parents, is that they are honest about their mistakes. They've grown, and in the last decade, they've both made our last name a new thing. "Salcedo" has always sounded nice, and it's always been a heritage I'm proud of, but in the last ten years my parents have turned it into a rallying cry of superb, exuberant faith in others, a love that persists beyond doubt, and a strength to persevere past the breaking point.
And while it is a return to my maiden name, I was actually the one who took convincing when it came to this decision. I had, after all, spent the last five years branding a company called Samudre Media. I hate that such a prosaic reason deterred me, but I think that's a particular sickness of the mind that accompanies running your own business. Everything about you becomes codified into assets or risks. Vasant asked me to look beyond the practical reasons not to change the name, however, and asked what I wanted reflected on my art, on my byline, for our family as it is unto itself, not as part of some enterprise. The answer, in that light, was easy.
I want my name to represent everything my parents have filled it with in the last decade: a legacy of love that we will endeavor to live up to in our homes, on our sets, and anywhere else that we end up.
So I sign off Sarah Samudre Salcedo, Sarah Salcedo once more.