I married an American. Which meant that after 6 years of living in the US and not being able to audition for Broadway because I didn’t have a Green card I was finally able to do so.
The night before our Green card interview Gregory had run around the house checking things out. “Spare razor, second drawer in the hall. Undies top left. Favourite colour purple. Toothbrush is purple. Mother’s maiden name is Thompson. Wife puts toilet roll in so it rolls out on top.”
“I do?” I ask.
“You do now,” says Gregory. “And you also have a purple toothbrush. That is going to be my default answer. Purple. Whatever it is, it’s purple. If we get separated remember that.”
“We’re not going to be separated,” I say rolling my eyes.
We had heard horror stories – people being told to pull out their keys to prove they matched and therefore lived together. When they didn't they deported the woman on the spot.
On the big day, we allow plenty of time for traffic issues, park easily, join the line for security, exit on the top floor and come face to face with two women barely in their twenties, shuffling along in shackles, their hands cuffed behind their backs.
Then we check in with the guard on duty, and calmly sip on our drinks while listening to a woman beg for her husband. “Please,” she cried, “they’ve taken him. Here’s his passport. Please.”
I finished my coffee and headed to the bathroom, fixing my hair in the mirror trying to see if any particular style made me look more married. Deciding ‘out’ made me look relaxed and in love, I left the bathroom and wandered back down the hall.
“Quick!” Gregory’s voice echoed off the walls, “they called us already. The lady is waiting!”
I sprint towards Gregory and our carry-bag of legitimate love. It was a huge binder stuffed with information, but part of me wondered if it was overkill and made it look like we were trying to manufacture a relationship that wasn’t really there.
I had dressed with caution in an elegant black dress and my grandmother’s pearls hanging around my neck. Pearls gave you a look of legitimacy. I hoped. They’re always handed down from someone, which I thought could indicate I was a good ‘family person’ and would disguise the fact that my dress came from the second hand store around the corner.
|He and I have more in common|
than just a big nose.
Six minutes later, not a single question about where I keep my socks, who last cleaned the shower and what type of face cream I use, our interviewer gives us the official paperwork - a dodgy photocopied letter congratulating me on my change of status, my name written in with her bright red pen.
And that, my friends, was that. No one was mean, the questions were not invasive, I wasn’t threatened with deportation, or subjected to a strip search. It was really all rather anti-climactic.
And then we moved to Australia.
Which meant I never got to audition for Broadway, we’d wasted three thousand US dollars at a time when the US dollar actually meant something, and then had to go through the whole process again with the Australian embassy.
And now I’m going through it for the second time, because Australia only gives you provisional residency until you can prove 2 years later that you’re still married to the same Aussie you got in with.
So last night while Gregory went to the pub with a mate, I sat down in front of the tv to fold Mount Washmore and fill out forms.
Yes, upon typing I realise there is something wrong with this scenario.
But all shall be remedied tonight when I embark on a baby and husband free girls’ night.
I don’t know who comes up with the questions for this residency, but I sure wouldn’t mind being the person paid to read through the answers.
Seriously, they make you answer:
· how you share and separate your financial commitments (easy. I don't earn anything so Gregory pays for them all).
· how you split the housework (G is a gun in the bathroom, I cover other areas and we both hate the oven).
· who does what for the kids (I'm her primary carer and G is our financial backer. It's a perfect relationship).
· explain the social aspects of your relationship (does takeaway thai with your brothers count?)
And my favourite one…
· describe the nature of your commitment to one another (like you're going to tell them you're just kidding and only got hitched 'cause you want to live at Bondi)
I diligently filled them all out, wondering as I went what they’ll think of the fact that the entire form, whether they be Gregory’s questions or mine, is written in my handwriting.
Would that be grounds for deportation or confirmation that we operate like most other hetero couples I know, where the woman is in charge of the papers and the man takes out the recycling?