Mex and I have some friends that are going throught the same exact process we went through. She just called last night to tell me her husband got his interview notice for July 1st. When she said that I felt sympathy knots in my stomach and the memories of that first week of February flooded back to me…
The mixture of fear and joy when we actually had the date in our hands. The intense panic because we didn’t feel prepared and had so much information to gather. The anxiety over how in the world it was possible to get everything done in a month while still working and squeeking out every last penny you can. The excitement to see Mexico with my husband and meet the family I had heard about for so long. The gut-twisting terror that things wouldn’t work out as we had planned and he may have to stay there.
Those feelings begin tossing us around like a canoe in the ocean from the minute we saw the deadline in black and white on the paper. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had every single paper in order and all of our travel plans made… Just like it didn’t matter that we had been planning to do this before we were even engaged… Over three years of knowing what was necessary to have my husband become a Permanent Legal Resident. I’ve decided that even though it is possible to prepare financially or physically for this, or any challenge in life, it is impossible to completely prepare yourself emotionally.
It reminds me of what another friend told me when she talked about having a child… “I don’t feel ready, but I didn’t last year either. I could keep waiting but, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel ready so we just decided to do it.” Now she is the proud mother of the cutest twin baby girls ever and is comfortable in her new role. I bet she can’t imagine the world without her girls now and those pre-pregnancy worries seem far away. We weren’t “ready” for my husband’s interview notice either but now we can’t believe we dragged out the process for so long. Looking back, it was easy to “wait” before we got his interview date… It was stressful and exhausting from the point of our notice until his actual second interview… But now, we can enjoy life and each other without the shadow that followed us for our entire relationship. We can tour Europe if we want to or hop on a plane to Mexico at any time… Mex can open a retirement account and I can finally make him the beneficiary on all of mine. The little things we didn’t even realize we worried about are now gone… of course we still get to have all the fun ‘discussions’ like “who left the toilet seat up?” “whose turn is it to clean the bathroom?” “you drive like a crazy person!” oh the joys of being together!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friends and we look forward to helping them prepare for this exciting (but highly stressful) time.
Another day of waiting for me but the stress is removed so I really don´t mind. I just got the car rearranged with our souvenirs shifted around and a whole bag of shoes (of which we only wore three pairs) packed up in the backseat. We just need to throw in the suitcases and figure out how to get out of this town.
Those of you who know my husband will appreciate how sneaky he was yesterday… At about 12:40 there was a knock on the hotel room door and I opened it and Mex was standing there with his envelope and a COMPLETELY straight face. The maid was behind him with her cart. He looked at me and said ´the maid wants to know what time you want the room cleaned´still not smiling in the least. I grabbed his shoulders and said ¨I don´t care what time she cleans the room WHAT DID THEY SAY?¨ Still completely straight-faced he said “oh, it´s approved.” It took about three seconds for it to register since he wasn´t smiling… Then I literally screamed (really loud I´m afraid) and pulled him into the room where we all gave him hugs and after a few seconds he finally smiled. When he opened the door to tell the maid we just needed some clean towels and that was it she said congratulations for whatever you are celebrating.
I don´t think the two of us stopped smiling all night. We did discuss how we were both wondering what would happen if they said no but we were too afraid to say it out loud to each other. Our attorney´s office had emailed us with the news that people had been given 6 to 8 month waits lately but she did also say that people were still getting answers the same day. We agreed that when my parents showed up it was a relief on many levels. Our initial reaction was that everything had to turn out all right because they were here to drive home with us. Then we did let the thought creep in our minds that if he had to wait, at least I wouldn´t have to drive back alone. We decided it was ok to have doubts as long as you keep talking in the positive. We never stopped talking about all the things we wanted to see in the US on the way home and never made any arrangements or looked into any prices for him to fly back to his town. I think, most importantly for me, my parents showing up finally made Mex realize how much they love HIM as well as me, and that he is TRULY a part of our family. That is as important than his “yes”.
Because we have been married for more than two years, Mex is now a PERMANENT LEGAL RESIDENT. That means he does not have to renew any visa for 10 years! No more paperwork and no more fees (of which we paid more than $7000 in the past two years, not including the last two months of hotel stays, travel, and time off work). If we had been married less than two years at this time he would have gotten a TEMPORARY LEGAL RESIDENT visa which would need to be renewed either after two years or at our two year wedding anniversary, I´m not sure about that. In just three years he can become a US CITIZEN! That is assuming he passes the test and after another $1000+ in fees.
This is far from a cheap process. We sought a consultation with an attorney a full year before our wedding and 9 months before we were even engaged so we knew what we were up against from the beginning. Actually, at our initial consultation in January 2005, the attorney said he would need to be in Mexico for 9 to 18 months awaiting a decision. We saved money for more than three years in order to do this. It gives us both an understanding for how hard and incapacitating the process is for most people who try to change their status. It is a large sum of money and requires a serious change in lifestyle and is very difficult for those who come to the US with the sole intent of sending as much money home as they can and just keeping enough in the US to survive. Especially because the average wage is below $10 an hour.
My heart is open to the people of Mexico, more so than before, because we have seen some truly terrible living conditions in many different parts of the country… Horrible dry, hot weather… water shortages… lack of jobs… poor sanitation and piles of trash in places that could be so beautiful. It is heart-breaking to see the poverty but it has helped me understand the motivation of millions and millions of people who come to the US and all those people in line at the US Consulate day in and day out.
I will take pictures as we cross the border! My parents brought their computer so I can actually update my pictures soon. I´ve been dying to do it since the places we saw on the last half of the trip are so different from the first half. We did take notes on hotels and restaurants and roads and anything we could think of for all the towns we went to so if you ever want some travelling advice let us know. And DO NOT be afraid to drive in Mexico! It´s really not that bad. Just be defensive and look out for anyone with Distrito Federal (Mexico City) license plates because they truly are insane drivers!!
More photos soon! HAPPY DAY!