The Social Security office experience took over two hours but in the end it was totally worth it because I got the loveliest compliment and officially became American.
Let me sum up.
First I stood in front of the mirror and introduced myself to myself in a variety of ways.
"Hi! I'm Odette!"
"Nice to meet you! I'm Sadie."
"My name's Willoughby."
And I just felt foolish. It felt like when I put on very bright lipstick or a serious suit and hose and conservative shoes. When I would go to conferences with a whole lot of Men in Suits in Finance and I'd try to act normal and not blurt out weird shit.
In other words, I just didn't feel like me. Plus, I like the LJ. It is me. In the end, I couldn't let go of that.
(Also, Nick had started writing emails addressing me with names like Clothilde Nighthawk and such, and I was quite sure that even if I got to a place where I felt normal with a new name, I'd be living with names like Barmela Shoefoot for the rest of my life.)
So I decided to get rid of my middle name, keep Lisa and Jordan, and add Nick'slastname.
So I marched off to the Social Security office, waited for two hours (reading - without guilt - all the while!) and then this lovely young woman called my name.
I told her I was worried that too much time had gone by since my marriage and she assured me that people often take years, and it was no problem.
She was very pleasant and smiley and after looking at my paperwork she burst out with, "Wow! You look amazing! I hope I look as great as you when I'm your age!"
Flattery will pretty much get you everywhere with me. Perhaps you know this? I'm not proud of the fact, but it is true.
Anyway, I told her that she looked like she was a teenager, although obviously she was old enough to be working, so I was certain she'd look amazing in her 40s. Also: wear sunscreen.
At which point she asked me if I had (no!, such big regret) because looking at me she wouldn't think I was even 30.
I told her she'd just made my year.
And by the way, what was her name again? Because maybe I'd just go ahead and change my name to that instead.
You have to bring proof of U.S. citizenship, and so I had my passport with me. She asked where I was born (India, which it says inside).
Towards the end she said, "So, while I'm in here, I'm just going to go ahead and check the box that says you're an American citizen."
"But I've always been an American. My dad was in the foreign service, so I've had an American passport since I was born."
In fact, for the first 21 years, I had a diplomatic passport. Which I guess is why my American box was never checked.
That doesn't sound very good, does it?
In any case, when you think of it, two hours isn't very long to become officially American in the system and to delete and add a name.
As Jordan likes to say, "I had a big day."
Because I am a hugger, I had this momentary urge to leap over the counter and give her a big hug. But I just thanked her and wished her happy holidays instead.