Let’s travel together back in time a couple of weeks…
So, then, in a flash of official paperwork and the tired eyes of a government official at the edge of a compulsory furlough I became a US Citizen. A tortuous path of stacks and stacks of forms requiring me to repeatedly detail every country I’ve ever visited since before cable TV and expound on intricacies like marriage dates of wives long since divorced.
It was slightly unnerving to hand over my precious ten year Green Card in exchange for a rather pedestrian sticky label in which my allocated seat number for the Citizenship Ceremony had been written in black Sharpie. We filed in, the ‘guy’ pronounced my middle name, “Paul” wrongly no less than twice before getting it right, a feat I didn’t think possible, had some speeches and then we all stood and took the solemn oath and pledged allegiance to our new national flag and the republic for which it stands. It was, as they say here, freaking awesome.
It was the culmination of a day of remaining calm after my morning appointment for the compulsory immigration interview and US Civics test. I had about a twenty minute wait after I arrived, glowing and inwardly panicking before my name was called. With barely one foot inside the tiny office I was told not to sit and remain standing whilst I swore to tell the truth. Thankfully that was the last time anyone from the USCIS or State Department have ever given me that kind of penetrating glare. Oath of Truth done, we reviewed the information on the official forms, seemingly corrected some minor date issues (they got the chronology of my first and second wives reversed) and then after a few subtle conversational questions to make sure I was on the level we went on to the Civics test. Which I aced.
After a bit of computer prodding I was told that I would be recommended for citizenship but reminded that I would not be a citizen until I had a chance to complete the Oath Ceremony. “There’s an Oath Ceremony being held here this afternoon if you’re able to attend”.
So I did. What’s more my wife and my daughter were able to be there with me too as I became an American.
Now, a few weeks later, my US passport has arrived and my voter registration has been enabled so I get to have my say next week, for the first time in the US, on some key things like mayors and propositions and other such ephemera. Just like everyone else…