I wrote awhile back about missing the 20th anniversary of my moving to the States; real life had intruded and I was too busy just… doing stuff (probably work) to keep track of when that had actually happened. Well, as I’ve been filling in paperwork relating to my new job, I’ve recently been revisiting my immigration progress and can happily report: it was March 17, 2002, that I left the UK for good and moved to the United States.
I’d actually forgotten just how convoluted and involved all the immigration stuff was, to be honest. My brain had blurred it all into a list of lengthy meetings and headshots taken at photographers who made their living helping immigrants with last minute government-ready images; something that was, repeatedly, a drag but not necessarily hard or unpleasant. It went on for years and it was expensive, sure, but it wasn’t that bad, I’d told myself.
Looking back at all the paperwork, and there’s a lot of paperwork to look back at, is a reminder of how incremental the process was, and how nerve wracking that felt at the time. Every decision, no matter how seemingly small in retrospect — going from a Conditional Permanent Resident of the US to being a Permanent Resident of the US, for example — would take months, and would require written requests, supporting documentation, and no small amount of patience.
Amusingly, my memory proved to be faulty in the different direction, as well; I remember the wait between the marriage and getting a green card as taking a long time, in part because of the complaints I was getting from Kate on a regular basis about my not bringing money into the house. Turns out, I had a green card three weeks after getting married. There’s no small amount of retrospective maybe there were earlier signs that I didn’t pick up on to learn from looking back, it seems.
Looking through all the paperwork was a sobering, surreal reminder of things I’d clearly filed away mentally with no desire to revisit. At the same time, though, it’s almost exciting to excavate your own life and relearn your own history.