Sunday, July 13, 2008


Early Friday morning America earned herself 6,188 new citizens. And I got to be there. For 10+ years Sparkles has navigated through the citizenship process and the paperwork. Somehow after countless roadblocks and stumbles, her love for this country and her determination to become a proper part of it, has only grown.

After discovering she had flat tire and a dead camera battery, I drove us into downtown just as the morning rush hour was beginning. After Bank of America (why would we carry cash? and of course it was B of A!) we paid for a prime parking space that would allow us an easy exit, and avoidance of our fellow 6,000+ new best friends. Walking to the Convention Center, we past Staples and watched the cars streaming in for cheaper parking. We chatted about the last 9 years of friendship and our trips to INS, always at some god awful hour. We clasped hands like school girls and stamped our feet in a little dance as we finally approached the front doors.

People milled about inside like ants. As we crossed the shiny tile floors I was glad to have Sparkles welcomed in such an official way, and not in some random, rundown courtroom with an acoustic tile ceiling. After walking up the lobby stairs we discovered this was where I was separated and sent to sit with the other friends and family. I bid her goodbye and she trotted off in her blue and white stripey dress. All she needs is something red and she's a damn flag, I thought and giggled as I looked for a seat.

As it turned out we both found a seat in eye line of one another. How on Earth we accomplished that I will never know. It made the experience, magical. I was able to watch her say the oath and snap her picture as she pledged her allegiance to my - our country. It was the only point at which I was tempted to cry. The rest of the time I couldn't stop grinning. My seatmate was there for his mail-order Filipino bride with the significant age difference. Only I would get a chair next to that guy. He was hilarious. After the ceremony we parted ways before I could meet her.

On the way outside to wait, I picked up a certificate cover. I got her a red one in honor of her Croatian roots - their passport jackets are red. I was pleased to spot a pro Obama presence encouraging people to register to vote. During the ceremony, via txt msg, Sparky informed me of her new voter status. I quietly let her know I'd be canceling out her vote - so it was cool. Laughs all around ensued.

I spotted her just as she emerged into the sunshine. The pictures are priceless. I have never seen someone so happy. Ecstatic. We hugged and someone from the Obama camp offered to take our picture. There, in the pictures clutching the red certificate cover, I realised that I had accessorized her into a flag. How appropriate for my newly minted citizen. I laughed out loud and took her arm and suggested we go get some breakfast.

Welcome to America!

* Downtown LA, July 11, 2008

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