The lawyer showing up with her shirt on inside-out was apparently an auspicious sign, as the hearing went swimmingly. From now on, I'm going to demand that any lawyer of mine wear their clothing inside-out during official proceedings.
The hearing! In case you haven't heard, Raphael's immigration hearing was this morning. We've been suffering a little this week. For the past few months, the big, hungry sharks of anxiety have surfaced only occasionally - usually right around the monthly meetings we've been having with the lawyer. After the meetings, the anxiety would subside, sinking ominously down into the depths to circle patiently around gold-encrusted shipwrecks and dead pirates and weirdo fish with illuminated knobs poking out of their foeheads and whatnot.
Last night, they were back with a vengeance. At least for me. Raphael seemed relatively calm. Too much Sudafed perhaps. Anyway, after studying for the history test that we hoped he would be taking today, we had some tea and he watched some Seinfeld and I read (a story that involved sharks). These activities were supposed to induce calm and sleepiness, but by the time I went to bed, I had an uncomfortable burning sensation in the right side of my stomach, and Lila was shedding uncontrollably all over the bed. (Although the shedding may not have been indicative of anxiety, I'm pretty sure the burning sensation was.)
I think I somehow convinced myself that the history test was The Most Important Thing, and I kept going over the questions and answers in my head as I was trying to fall asleep. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? July 4, 1776. Who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner? Francis Scott Key. Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? All people living in the United States. (Honestly. I don't know who they're kidding.) It was as if I had to know the answers in order for them to stick in Raphael's head. As if knowing the year the Constitution was written (1787) was more imperative than Raphael having accurately and honestly recorded the sequence of green-card-related events between his marriage and his divorce and also not having been convicted of a felony or having anger management issues or anything.
No matter. We were all three able to sleep and woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for the hearing. Or at least Lila did. Raphael and I required lots of coffee, but that's fairly normal.
So here's all what went down. More-or-less. I wasn't actually allowed in the room where the hearing took place. I was instead sitting in the waiting room reading a story in which a hyena eats a zebra alive and is then devoured bloodily by a tiger. So. Keep that in mind.
Apparently there has been some speculation over the past few months that Raphael was initially allowed into the country on the wrong visa. Actually, it wasn't speculation. It was true. I just didn't know what we were talking about, ever. (Form XCN-S2-6? Visa blah blah blah? This is all I heard any time we had a meeting with the lawyer. Thank god Raphael spoke her crazy language.)
But the wrongness of the visa wasn't the only problem. It was only the problem that came before the immigration office in Phoenix lost his entire file. (It was found much later on somebody's shelf after she retired.) In any case, the examiner Raphael met with today apparently spent much time flipping through his documents, shaking his head, and moaning under his breath about the ineptitude of the people who let this happen in the first place and the general ridiculousness of the whole damn thing. Which is good on one level, but not so much on another. (Mainly the one on which we were perched with all the lawyer's fees and the emotional trauma.)
After a complicated legal-type discussion with our lawyer (interspersed with eye-rolling), the examiner quizzed Raphael about his marriage, gave him the history test, and sent him on his way with the promise that an official approval letter will arrive in the mail soon, and at that point we will also be told the date of his naturalization ceremony.
And from that date on, I will be changing Raphael's name to Johnboy "Bubba" Smith. A good, solid American name. "Raphael" is clearly too foreign. It makes the people at the immigration office nervous. And I don't want that happening again.