My partner will likely never meet my biological father; we hardly speak. I will never meet his parents — they’re characters to me in his rarely told stories from a difficult Arkansas upbringing. But I learned their names for the green card; he learned Daddy’s proper name too. My mother’s legal name is Selena, but she’s been Sindy to everyone since she was a baby.
My elegant mother, who never imagined her Cambridge scholar daughter getting married in a Bushwick warehouse, wearing Doc Martens and uttering the vows “for poorer and poorer still,” but who stood with us that night, raised a plastic glass, toasted to our love and meant it — that woman is Sindy. “Her real name’s actually Selena,” I informed my partner, who loves Sindy, in the lawyer’s office. The dissonance between intimacy and legal fact felt stark.
Our green card interview went smoothly. We had been a little concerned — I had been arrested a few months earlier while reporting when Occupy stormed the Brooklyn Bridge, and my partner has what you might call an active history of dissent. My charges were dismissed by a judge, but paranoia prevails when so much is at stake. (My partner doesn’t have a passport currently; I still fear flying across the Atlantic, just in case, for some reason, I can’t get back.)