I’ve waited many days for this little thing. It’s just a tiny bit of plastic that showed up in the mail this morning. No fanfare, no angels singing, no warm, bright light. It’s just a tiny envelope, but one that happens to alter the trajectory of my life in untold ways. Yet I can’t describe how I feel, how I ought to feel, besides the everything I’ve felt in all that time. There were anxious late nights walking around my apartment, lunch-time calls with pals whining about it, and back-and-forth documents—hundreds and hundreds of pages worth—but now, here it is: my green card. In the palm of my hands is proof that I’m a permanent resident.
2,392 days ago I moved to America. At the time I thought this was an exciting but short-lived adventure and I never expected to find a stable home here. But, eventually, I did. So: I should celebrate! Well, maybe not? I want to say something along the lines of “and, subsequently, with the green card foretold by the great prophecy in hand, years of anxiety disappeared” but that’s just not true either.
So how do I feel then, huh? Huh? Shouldn’t I be overjoyed? Relieved? Shouldn’t I sleep better with the knowledge that never again can a shitty manager take my job and my home along with it? Shouldn’t I be soothed by this little bit of green plastic knowing that I never have to wait at the airport and hope and pray that I have the right documents, the right key that will let me return home?
I know, I know.
Once this kind of worrying has settled in and taken root then it needs time to dislodge, time to heal over. I should be more patient with myself since it’s hard to put into words how stressful it is that your place in the universe is at the whim of a large and intangible bureaucracy or an employer who you can never fully trust because of the power they wield over you.
I should remember that there’s always going to be stubborn emotions like these that stick around for too long and I shouldn’t bully myself for feeling a certain way about things. This moment requires patience and holding this card tightly in my grubby hands and feeling all these feelings until they go away.