Guys, tomorrow I have my citizenship test appointment. Those of you who have been with me through this entire process know how monumental this is for me.
I am a flipping mess. My stomach it’s hurting so bad from the nerves (or maybe from the entire box of Special K, I nervous ate last night). I wish I had the confidence to go without nerves but historically speaking my appointments have been fraught with one thing or another and I hate to invite trouble but I can’t get the words of my retired lawyer out of my head: ‘prepare for the worst and hope for the best’
Repeated those to me like a mantra throughout this entire process and now I cannot just be cavalier about it, I am a nervous wreck and preparing for anything and everything.
My friend Erin suggested taking one of my ‘fly pills’ (Xanax) but I rather be coherent and nervous than so chill and relaxed that I am not giving a damn about my answers.
To those of you who do not know the process this is how it goes:
After three years of having a permanent residency (and technically five years after being married to an American Citizen) applicants get to submit the N-400 (naturalization) form. Applicant of course has to pay a fee along with the application and have another round of fingerprinting (I did that in August) and then if fingerprints come clean, a letter it’s send with a date and time to present at the local immigration office for testing.
The testing involves reviewing the N-400 application, where they ask the applicant to repeat the entire form, name, places of residence for the past five years, places of employment for the past five years, if they have left the country, for how long they’ve been out, etc. They also ask if they’ve ever prosecuted someone based on their religious faith, if they’ve belonged to a militia, or guerrilla-type organizations or ever belonged to a Communist party or a Nazi party. I think they also ask if they have ever prostituted. Fun times!
They then ask 10 out of 100 possible civic questions that range from: “What is the supreme law of the land?” to “what states border Canada?” Applicants have to get 6 out of 10 right. Then they ask to say a sentence in English, which is kind of redundant to me because the entire time they have reviewed the application it’s in English so they should have a clue of whether the applicant is fluent or not by that point, but what do I know? After repeating something along the lines of “the White House it’s located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” the applicant has to also write the sentence or a similar one (think “the fox jumps over the lazy dog”)
I have read and being told by my family members who have gone through the process, that they may or may not tell you right away if you passed, and they may or may not get you sworn in the same day, and may or may not give you a date right away for your swear in. They also may or may not send a letter requesting further paperwork and information.
So they may or may not grant it.
Absolute and definite it’s not their game.
My case has been a complicated one and it took years but the outcome was a positive one. I repeat that to myself constantly. I have my permanent residency and my legal status was resolved and everything is fine, but I am not going to lie, the whole process was somehow dehumanizing and traumatic. Every time I see an immigration application I get this uncomfortable and painful feeling in my stomach and I turn into a raging bitch. I am so short tempered and annoyed when I can’t find a paper or get frustrated when they ask me to bring a copy of my husband’s birth certificate to prove he is a U.S. Citizen and it irks me! It irks me that they require that paper when they have at least four copies of that from the entire process. It is part of the bureaucracy of every country, not just this one.
I understand it when I stop and think about it, but I think is part of the emotional trauma that I associate with the immigration process.
I am afraid of them. I guess that’s what it boils down to. I am afraid of the unchecked power they have over me and my future. I know this is the end of the process and still it’s a visceral reaction to what the immigration agents represent. I felt so disenfranchised and alone when this whole process began. Apparently having a permanent resident card hasn’t relieved me of that fear.
I wonder if everything goes well and I pass the test and they grant me citizenship if that fear will remain in me. Or if I will feel the blue passport like a mantle over my shoulders protecting me from them and all dangers out there.
I have always loved those scenes in the movies where the American Citizen is running towards their embassy, secure in the knowledge that they will have the whole backing and protection of the world’s most powerful country as soon as they cross those gates. I felt jealous of that, of that confidence in one’s country.
While confidence and trust in government it’s an all-time low, pretty much everywhere in the world, I must admit that I don’t feel that way towards this country. Maybe because where I come from it’s so much worse, so much corruption without any accountability. I am sure Americans who read this will disagree and think me naive and misinformed. I am also sure they haven’t lived in Colombia or Venezuela and have no clue of the realities there.
In spite of that, I do not make the decision of citizenship lightly. I will have to forgo loyalty to my native country after all.
I am prepared though. I used to mock my brother for how ‘native’ he had gone and here I am, gone native as well. I don’t quite bleed red, white and blue, but I have worked hard to stay here, I have worked hard to never be a burden to the country, I have done my part to keep it clean and safe, I have traveled and loved every inch of this country that I have seen. I am in awe of its beauty every day; and every afternoon when I drive home and see the sun set and the pink, oranges and blues of the Florida skyline I smile and I grateful that I get to be here and enjoy that beauty.
I am ever so grateful of the opportunity to be here and the acceptance that I have found in those who have welcomed me. I love this new country of mine. I do. I think back to the days when I was depressed and miserable and wanting to go back to Venezuela and I smile a little at thinking of all the things I would’ve missed from here. It’s a different type of love from my love from Venezuela or Colombia, not so tinged with nostalgia and sadness. It’s hopeful, sweet and thankful.
Let’s see tomorrow if the agents will let their country love me back.