"Did you study enough?"
"Okay how many representatives are in the House of Representatives?"
"Name one of the longest rivers in the US?"
"Mississippi...I told you I studied...no need to keep quizzing me!"
This was our conversation on the way to my husband's citizenship interview on March 6th 2012. He lugged his huge briefcase brimming with all the documents they requested...marriage certificate-- translated--children's birth certificates-- tax returns-- utility bills (I guess to prove we both are staying in the same house)-- pictures of the family--to make sure we are married? hello??? We've been married for 25 years...we have 3 kids...soon 3 grand kids!
I sat out in the big waiting area. The book on my lap gave the impression I was reading, but every time a door opened my head flipped around to see who was coming out. Nope ...not him...not yet... I had a lot of time to people watch. Oh, no, that man definitely didn't get it...he is shaking his head and trying to tell his daughter some reason why ...maybe he didn't have all his documents? Oh look at that other woman's smile- she is showing thumbs up to her husband, so she must have done well! Good for her.
Everyone sits straight in their chairs, hugging their documents and looking serious as they wait. When the officer calls out their names, they jump up and walk mechanically to the door. What a transformation when they exit the door after the interview. Each person emerges with relief all over their faces.
The door squeaks, I turn and it is my hubby. I search his face, I can't seem to detect the relief...he has an odd expression...."How was it?" I already have my coat in hand and am ready to head down the stairs.
"Wait...we can't leave yet."
I half sit, half stand, "Why? Is something wrong?"
"No...the opposite...they said I did very well and I've waited so long why not just join the ceremony today and get my citizenship today!"
"REALLY? Today...like when?"
"in a couple hours"
"Are you serious?"
He was serious. We waited a couple hours. I texted the kids. No one was expecting this so everyone was at work. Cassandra was able to make it...thankfully...since she snapped the pictures.
There were speeches, video presentations, oaths said, pledges made and presentations of the naturalization certificate. Tears softly tied each part of the ceremony together...they were happy tears...they were tears of amazement....they were 'just because' tears. Daniel said when they played the song, "God Bless the USA"* his eyes welled up with tears. When he walked across the stage to receive his certificate, Cassandra and I clapped as loud as we could.
After 20 years of being a green card holder, he now is a citizen. I asked him what he is looking forward to doing as a citizen...his answer? "Vote, of course!"
*I could not find the exact link to the video they showed at the Naturalization ceremony but this was close enough.