Am I Still Gibson?

My name is Judi Morales Gibson. People often ask me why I have two names. It’s a strange concept in this country where most women take their husband’s name or hyphenate to make a new name. I had been Morales for 34 years and was not going to give it up, so I simply added my husband’s name to mine. Simple right? Not so much.

The year we got married, we lived in Amsterdam. My then finance, had been recruited to work as an art director for a dot com there. When we moved to Holland, we were not yet married so my passport had my maiden name of Morales. No biggie.

Getting the household set up in Holland was no easy task, as the Dutch live for bureaucracy so it slows down every single process. When the Cello cable guy came to hook us up, I was alone at the flat. To my surprise, the process went smoothly until it was time to sign for the work.

The 6’5” technician pulled out the paperwork and asked for my identification. I happily showed him my passport. He looked at it and furrowed his brow, then looked again at his paperwork. In a large booming voice with a strong Dutch accent he said, “You are noh’t Geeb-sohn. You are noh’t Geeb-sohn!”

He said it in a way as if to say, you’re an imposter. I am barely five feet tall so he towered over me. I felt like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. I smiled and firmly explained, “But I am Gibson. My fiance is Gibson so I am Gibson.”

The giant Dutch tech frowned and said, “But you are noh’t Geeb-sohn!” almost yelling this time. I carefully explained the situation to him again. This time offered him my husband’s phone number at work so he could call and confirm that I am indeed Gibson, not an imposter posing as Gibson.

After a few minutes, giant-Dutch-tech grumbled and hastily handed me the paper. I signed it Judi Morales Gibson. He didn’t even look at my signature and left without further incedent.

A few months later, we came home to Benicia to get married here then returned to Amsterdam. Traveling with my Morales passport was never a problem, but doing business in Holland was. Setting up bank accounts and applying for a green card was a nightmare.

We were required to get our birth certificates and marriage license apostilled by the state they were issued in. It’s an official government notarization that makes your certificates recognized by foreign countries. It was not easy task. I had to fly home, go to Sacramento, wait in a long long and hang around while it was done. It took a whole day.

When I returned to Amsterdam I finally decided to legally change my name. Because we lived in Holland, I had to go the US Consulate to have this done. Compared to the Dutch bureaucracy , the US process was actually pretty easy. Within hours, my passport was amended with my new legal name, Judi Morales Gibson… no hyphen please.

It was a triumph for me. I wanted to call Cello cable and ask for giant-Dutch-tech to return, so I could show him that I was indeed Gibson. Of course that never happened but it would have been so satisfying. When my son the Biscuit was born, he was of course was given the family name of Gibson.

Now that my husband and I are split, people ask me if I am going to change my name again. The answer is no.

I intend on keeping the name Morales Gibson for several reasons. I am keeping my husband’s name to honor the bond we have. It’s important to me that my son and I have a common name and in the end, I worked pretty damned hard to become Gibson. Take that giant-Dutch-tech!

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