Two of our dear friends, a young couple from Venezuela, gained US citizenship recently. Since this is a really big deal, we determined to attend the ceremony.
Complicating our trek to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office was a light rain that had been falling for more than a day. Rain, in July? We really needed a good rainfall, but even a drizzle takes its toll on commuter traffic.
We took umbrellas and I even threw my ugly blue nylon jacket into Brent’s car. Brent had “won” the jacket when he and the boys were at the Oklahoma D-Day paintball game years ago. A vendor threw prizes out into the crowd, and the package Brent snagged turned out to be a women’s size extra-large rain suit. This immediately became a hot potato that none of them wanted anything to do with. They finally used HazMat tongs to take it to the car, and managed to get it to me without touching it. I didn’t especially want it either, but I keep it in case of emergency.
Anyway, thanks to the squirrelly traffic it took us just over an hour to drive the forty-ish miles to the USCIS office. When we parked, the rain had backed off but it was still sprinkling. Fearing the industrial-strength air conditioning common in government buildings, we used our umbrellas. Rationale: you don’t want to get wet before going into government-issue air conditioning. Believe me, you’ll end up as a popsicle.
Inside the airlock we found a dispenser prominently offering umbrella bags. Taking the hint, we bagged our umbrellas so we wouldn’t drip all over the shiny floor. These we got to juggle while we went through a miniature version of airport security complete with metal detector, a measure I should have expected but didn’t.
When the security guy told Brent to remove his belt I got slightly worried. See, thanks to my Fitbit and a focus on lightening up my menu, I’ve lost about 14 pounds from around my middle this year. That morning I wore my black skinny jeans, now a good two inches too big around the waist, and a much-needed belt.
Knowing my belt buckle wouldn’t get through the metal detector, I took the belt off and put it in the plastic bin with my umbrella, phone and Kindle. Ooops, and my Fitbit. Then I had to scooch through the metal detector and on around the conveyor, surreptitiously hanging onto a belt loop so I wouldn’t lose my pants. At last my purse and bin rolled out of the airport-style X-ray machine.
Now all I had to do was lift the hem of my blingy drapeneck top enough to feed the belt back through the loops, while somehow neither flashing the crowd or, again, losing my pants. I managed this delicate operation with more haste than grace, and without looking at the Homeland Security people. If they were watching I just didn’t want to see the expression on their faces, you know?
In due time the ceremony started. Even I found it pretty emotional, and I was born here. I can only try to imagine the feelings of the 97 people from 35 different countries who were being sworn in. I mean, even with all her faults the US is an amazing nation.
Brent and I enjoyed hanging around afterward, congratulating some of our freshly minted fellow citizens and taking photos of our friends beside their new flag. We had never attended a naturalization ceremony before, and I came away with a fresh appreciation for this land.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better go shop for some black skinny jeans.
In my size.