FINALLY, US CITIZENSHIP

I’ve lived most of my life within the borders of this country. I first came as a nineteen-year-old nanny–a girl raised in England and looking for adventure. More than forty years later, I am a twice-divorced mother of two American sons, a teacher, and an adventure-seeker still.

I’ve had my Alien Registration Card, otherwise known as a “green card,” since 1981. It’s of the old variety that never needed renewing. More recent ones must be renewed every ten years.

Regulations change over time and since the 9-11 tragedy, I have had to produce my Registration Card to renew my driver’s license.  When I went to ex-change my Florida driver’s license for a California one, the clerk pointed out that my green card was coming apart at the seams and no longer valid.

Panic stations!  I had thought since Social Security cards are not supposed to be laminated, the rule would apply for green cards. What shall I do?

For years, I had been intending to apply for naturalization as a US citizen. Suddenly, a decision was upon me: I could either trade in my old-style green card for a newer variety, or apply for citizenship.

Even though it was a decision born of necessity, I was emotional during the actual swearing-in ceremony. Friends who had been naturalized told me that each nationality represented would be recognized by name and the people from that country would stand.

When that part of the pro-gram arrived during the ceremony, former citizens of over seventy countries were in the room.  I imagined this time-consuming part of the proceedings might be skipped.

Not so! From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, we all took our turn to stand as the name of our

former country was called.  Mine was the “United Kingdom,” but I briefly considered standing up when the name of my birth country, Egypt, was announced. (Dad was in service, over-seas.)  It took a long while to get alphabetically to “United Kingdom.”

As I waited, I was becoming more and more verklempt.  I was concerned that I would be a blubbering mess by the time the announcer arrived at the countries beginning with “U.”

As I waited, I thought about my Polish great-grandparents and wondered if they had be-come British citizens.  Perhaps it had even been “necessary” for them to change their nationality when they immigrated at the end of the nineteenth century.

Since my ceremony took place in Southern California, I was not surprised that the majority of new US citizens hailed from Mexico. I was stunned, however, to see many former Iraqis stand when it was their turn. About six of us erstwhile Limeys stood as the name “United Kingdom” reverberated across the large auditorium.

I waved my miniature Stars and Stripes in an effort to dispel the tremors of conflicting emotions that threatened to engulf me.

Liz/ Moascar

Liz/ Moascar

Liz/ Moascar (Apr. ‘14) adds, “I am in the middle of finagling taxes, preparing to go to the desert this weekend and working hard!”

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