But before I could cry in my highly-emotional state as he repeated the words that made him a citizen of the U.S., I had to sweat.
Given what you know of me, it's probably no surprise at all that in our marriage (and in most of my other relationships), I'm the one that organizes things, assures all the paperwork is in order, reads the fine print, and generally just keeps everything together. For some reason, my usual drive for efficiency has left me in a bit of a situation, not once, but twice this summer.
(The first being when we nearly missed our flight to Mexico).
This morning I dressed in silky white pants, a navy top, a bulky red necklace and my wedge sandals—I tell you this because it will matter greatly later (and also because I was a bit proud of my patriotic ensemble). Once I was ready, I got my bag together and as we headed out we realized we'd probably be cutting it too close to go directly to the post office to apply for R's passport after the naturalization ceremony, so I removed that folder of documents and whatnot from my bag so I wouldn't have to lug it around all day.
It was beautiful this morning—about 70F with a nice breeze blowing off the rivers, so we walked the mile up from our apartment in Lower Manhattan to 26 Federal Plaza for the ceremony. We were told to be there at 8:30AM and we found ourselves in the security line at 8:21AM. Perfect.
Until I looked around saw everyone else in line holding their appointment letter—which included a signed statement on the back that had to be turned in when the applicants checked in.
Too bad R's letter was sitting back at home in that folder of documents.
There was nothing else to do but go home and get it. With the way the roads are downtown, a cab would have taken forever, so I thrust my bag at R, grabbed my phone, wallet, and keys and RAN.
Ran one mile down from Federal Plaza to our apartment, dodging people on the way to work, fruit vendors, buses, taxis, and I don't even know what else, because it was all a blur. People looked at me like I was crazy, and of course, a nicely dressed lady dodging over potholes and taking curves a wee bit too fast in her heels is crazy. I got to our building, cursed the elevator for stopping on every damn floor, flew into our apartment (without even taking off my shoes, that's how serious I was!), grabbed the letter, and ran out and back up another mile.
1.98 miles in about 17 minutes.
I have never, nor will I ever again, run that fast—nor do I ever want to! The guards, seeing my plight and general disastrous appearance waved me to the top of the line (thank goodness no mace on me like last time!) and we skidded through security and up to the 3rd floor at 8:44AM. Luckily, the administrators were still getting everything set up, so it didn't matter that we were late.
R went to the front of the hall to sit with the other almost-citizens, and I went to the back to sit with the families. The entire ceremony was quite short, but that didn't stop me from getting a little worked up as the organizer talked about becoming an American, called out each of the 54 nationalities represented to stand, and led them through the oath and Pledge of Allegiance.
Especially as I thought about my parents, who each went through their own version of this ~ 40 years ago. And now two people that came to the U.S. independently of each other in their early 20s have two children both born in the U.S., both married to foreign-born nationals, one already living outside of the US in a country that neither he nor his wife were born in, and the other (me) hoping to do the exact same thing (in yet another country), and one (me again) who was able to transfer that "American-ness" to her husband.
Funny how it works, right? It's enough to make me gasp at the absolute craziness of it all.
Early next week I'll go to the post office with R and the paperwork I prepared to apply for his American passport, and that, my friends, is the absolute last check I will ever have to write and document I will ever put together for the United States government for R, because now he's officially one of us.