I've been married to Tony 20 years. We met 21 years ago at a friend's wedding. Linda was marrying Adrian who had moved to North Carolina from Melbourne, Australia. All of his groomsmen came from Australia. After spending 10 days with Tony in 1988, when he called to invite me to visit, my mother said yes! (She had seen up close and personal some of the guys I had brought home. Tony was better than she had dared to hope for me!) Unfortunately, our marriage and their son, Bryce, were the best things to come from Adrian and Linda's short union.
After a year of international dating, we got married. We lived in Melbourne for a year and a half. In a plot to get me back in the US, my dad found a construction company that was looking for a new partner. An introduction over Christmas break did the job. We moved back to North Carolina in August of 1990. Tony has been a tax paying legal alien since then.
Over the years, we had our two boys. I worked, stayed home, worked some more, and stayed home again. Tony has worked hard at Steel Dynamics and has helped turn it into a sought after company when it comes to steel construction. Tony watched in frustration as I voted for the candidates he wasn't so fond of.
He has always wanted to become a US citizen, but as life goes, we were too busy, too tired, too lazy, etc. This year, he made the leap. He hired an attorney to coach him through the process and jumped in with both feet. Several interviews required him to show tax returns, bills, birth certificates and our marriage certificate and to confess his unlawliness...running a stop sign in Wake Forest.
On Wednesday of this week, we went to the INS office in Durham for his final interview. He had been studying the US history information that he would be quizzed on. As we waited in the outer office with all of the other folks wanting to become US citizens, my mind raced with scenarios for each person.
The good looking guy with dark skin, brown hair an untucked white shirt, Italian white loafers and khakis had met a woman while she was vacationing in Greece. The tall blonde in tight white pants and no detectable underwear line had met an American man in an overseas disco and followed him home. It seems all of my fantasies were of a romantic nature rather than terrorist conspiracy.
When Tony's name was finally called, we went to the door to wait. The woman who opened the door looked at me and said, "Who are you?" When I informed her that I was Tony's wife, I got the universal STOP hand and was told "NO". I guess I'll wait out here and continue to fantasize. I'm sure this was better for Tony. As our friends, Kurt and Sharon, had warned, I needed to watch and keep my mouth shut. Since I tend to over-explain things leading to waaaaay off topic subjects, I might unintentionally get him deported.
Fifteen minutes later, Tony emerged. He passed. I get to keep him! He was asked six historic questions (none of which he could remember after it was over). She asked about his brushes with the law. When he told her about his failure to stop, she informed him that he was telling the truth. She asked if both of his parents were Australian born citizens, he told her yes. Again, she informed him that he was telling the truth. At that point, Tony confessed to being afraid he would give a wrong answer and buzzers would sound and a shock would zap him from beneath his chair. Instead, she informed him that he had passed and could return to the waiting room.
Another twenty minutes passed before a man came into the room and passed out invitations to a ceremony to be held on Friday for Tony to take an oath denouncing his allegiance to any other country and celebrate his American citizenship.
Stay tuned for part 2.