Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Crime Distribution Locations Obits Puzzles Digital FAQ Razorback Sports

OPINION | Lisa Baker Gibbs: A rose by any other name is still change — and worth it

Writer returns to her roots by Lisa Baker Gibbs My Roots Are Showing | May 11, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

Like many baby girls born during the era of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, I was named "Lisa." Mama said she picked that name because of her favorite boss in Tulsa, who had twin girls named Lisa and Teresa, and she didn't like the name Teresa. And rather than "Marie" for the middle name, she selected "Lynn," for reasons not entirely clear. Perhaps it was for the Southern alliterative lilt it lent, in the vein of Loretta Lynn or Tina Turner.

For two dozen years, I was "Lisa Lynn Baker," graduating twice under than moniker. Right before I graduated law school, I married. And as many good girls do, I changed my name to his, letting go of the past and claiming the future together as one.

A few years later, one became two again. Though I longed to return to my given name, no one knew me professionally by that name, so I stayed with the surname "Kelley." And while I dated and had a request or two for matrimony over the next 13 years, I remained guarded in re-admittance to that institution. In Groucho Marx-fashion, I took the position that I didn't want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.

Then along came Trapper John who, despite my best efforts to give him The Heisman stance, steadily looked passed my tough rhetoric. When we said "I do" on April Fool's Day at the beginning of a global pandemic, I occasionally added his name to mine here and there, but for the most part, I continued to go by my professional name.

Why? You got me. Maybe it was because I'd done a lot of living under that name. Maybe because I'd changed my name once and look how that turned out. Maybe I didn't want the hassle of changing all the paperwork at the bank, credit cards and DMV (please, Lord, don't MAKE me go to the DMV!).

But if I were a betting woman, I'd put good money on the reason being that change is hard, even change instigated by me. I'm one to travel the same potholed road all the way to the end, ignoring detour and road closure signs. Put one foot in front of the other, just like I did yesterday.

Until this week. This week, I royally ripped the Band-Aid on change. After living and working nearly three decades in Benton County, Trapper John and I moved with our geriatric pets to the tiny town of Mountain View, Arkansas -- population 2,877 counting people, possums and feral cats. Salute!

In another step toward getting back to my roots, we've gone rural. While I'll continue to practice in Benton County, coming back regularly and working remotely, I already feel lighter. The pace is slow; the cadence of speech, even slower.

And not a soul cares whether my name is Gertrude or Matilda. So I'm marrying the Elvis-era me to the present and future me with Trapper John, together as one. And there's no wait over here at the DMV.

Lisa Baker Gibbs is an award-winning Southern storyteller, lawyer and country gal now showing her roots in Mountain View. Email her at [email protected].

Print Headline: What’s in a name?


Sponsor Content