Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Waiting for the stamp of approval

Along with countless other couples, "Gavino" and I spent a good part of the morning waiting for our INS interview. The process of waiting three hours for our interrogation left us feeling disempowered and exhausted. We are grateful, though, the ordeal is now over and Gavino's H1 has turned green. Yes, it's a distressing experience to have an institution judge the legitimacy of your nine year relationship, even with legal representation in tow.

Of all the questions that could have come up about our personal history, the officer's demand for an explanation of how I got my last name was out in left field. The change to my marital status so late in life and the absence of children made me a feminine suspect of sorts. Clearly my ethnic countenance did not quite fit my Anglocized name.

During our wait, we observed couples who displayed their relationship through a series of practices. These were attempts at conveying relational legitimacy to an audience of other couples. One soldier arrived in his uniform with his foreign wife on his arm. Some couples held hands at opportune moments. I picked lint off of Gavino's brown linen jacket, a grooming habit of primates. One exception to this collective behavior: Middle-aged Anglo guys with their foreign teenage wives who couldn't speak English seemed less inclined to prove their authenticity.

Overall, we were at the mercy of a lethargic system, bent on having it's coffee breaks and mid-morning bagels, without interruption.