At some point during the middle of last week Dom and I became green card holders. Well, we aren't holding them yet, but we've been sent letters welcoming us to permanent resident status in the United States. I'm still technically meant to take myself off to a TB clinic because I have latent TB, possibly from years spent in the London borough of Brent, but I don't think anyone's checking. So when the card arrives we've been told we have to carry it everywhere. 'It's the law' says the piece of paper. Even to the corner shop? Out jogging? (as if!) But really? I can now think of dozens of places I want to go without my wallet; the beach, the playground, the run to preschool... I'm reminded of the time we were caught speeding near Yosemite last year. I say we, but it was (sorry Dom) not me behind the wheel. However, neither of us were carrying our passports as the CHIPS officer in bright white SUV appeared suddenly from the blind crest in front of us. Shiny sheriff's star proudly pinned to his right breast, shades down, beige uniform perfectly ironed, gloss black boots neatly crunching over the gravel of the turn-out as he paced towards us. He was incredulous that we didn't have any identification papers, 'in this time of heightened homeland security'. His voice went high pitched with utter astonishment. The upshot was that six weeks later Dom had to make a 4 hour journey to Mariposa courthouse to bargain with the DA and get the charge of infringement (one down from a felony if you can you believe it) reduced to misdeameanour and then wiped completely, which amazingly, he succeeded in doing. So we know what it is to brush with the law here without the right paperwork.
But the truth is, I'm not really sure what having a green card actually means to us. Sure, it's harder for us to be thrown out of the country. But strangely, that new privilege, after three years in this country and a nine month application process, is almost a bit of a let-down. I don't want to go on about my expat-anxt, but I thought this long awaited new status might be the jigsaw piece we were looking for, the thing that made the picture of our future a little clearer. But, no. It almost feels like we now have the freedom to leave the country, spend a year in Patagonia, buy a run down farm in Andalucia...a challenge for our next adventure, perhaps?