Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jumping to conclusions

We have an amazing translator. I sent Ana’s birth certificate and our marriage license to her this weekend and she sent back the results on Monday. If you’re in Mexico and need documents translated, talk to Lenka. She returned to Mexico a few years ago after living nearly 30 years in the US and is completely fluent in both Spanish and English. She’s also a pleasure to visit. I’m compiling our documents now and will finally send them in soon.

Occasionally Ana and I talk about children. Early in our relationship she asked me how many so I told her seven. I didn’t hear anything from her right away after that. We talk seriously and joke about the topic still, wavering between one and, sometimes, seven. Apparently I’ve been teasing her too much lately about the number lately. I about fell out of my chair one night when she told me, “I don’t know if you want a wife or a rabbit!”

This week I discovered I may be a little overprotective. I received a text message on my phone at 4:00 one afternoon from Ana that said, “I’m in my bed.” No explanation, no warning. I shot back a message asking, “Why?!” She answered, “There’s not enough space to tell you here. But I know you’re perfect for me.” The last message really confused me. I told her I would be home soon and would call her then. She was planning a making a doctor’s appointment so I was imagining all sorts of possibilities like a sudden illness, an accident or who knows what! When I got home I called her cell phone. She answered sounding very calm, cheery and alert. The noise in the background didn’t sound like her neighborhood. I asked her where she was and she answered “In my office.” After a few minutes of head clearing conversation, I discovered that she had sent that message the night before, when she went to bed! She had just sent me another message a few minutes before I received the old one and she thought I was responding to that one when I asked “Why?!”

It was all kind of funny once I understood that everything was ok. We’ve had problems with text messages being delayed several hours before but never had this kind of confusion before.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More paperwork

I can understand the “I’m the luckiest man alive” feeling some guys have when they are married to the right woman. The difference between them and me is that I’m actually the luckiest (most fortunate) man alive! I am in awe when I think about the time Ana and I spend together and when I think about the plans we’re making and the future we have. We put a lot of thought into the timing of the civil and religious weddings. Our intention was to consider the civil wedding as just part of the process or one of the steps. Sending her back to Mexico and waiting here without her is proving to be much more difficult than I had expected. I can’t wait to have her back but I will miss one of our rituals once she is home with me. Every morning that we’re apart, for ten months now, I’ve sent Ana a text message in the morning to greet her or encourage her for the day. I’ll miss that but I think it will be worth giving up when I can open my eyes and see her first thing in the morning.

The immigration paperwork is nearly ready. I started to work on translating Ana’s documents for the application. Instead, we’ve decided to hire again the translator we used before the civil wedding. She is much faster and creates beautiful documents. We’re also working on getting a translator for the wedding. It’s unclear how many of my friends, family and clients will make it to Mexico but there are enough coming that we want to have someone translate during the service. We met someone who would be perfect and are waiting to hear his response. I should have the translated documents in a couple of days and hope to put the application in next week.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Starting the paperwork

Generally, I'm one who likes to enjoy the journey as much as arriving at the destination. But waiting until the end of August for our second wedding is going to drive me crazy! Hopefully I’ll be able to travel to Mexico to see Ana within the month.

The copies of our marriage license arrived last week with Ana’s biographical form and birth certificate. I was working out of town again and didn't pick them up until Friday. I'm starting to get the marriage license and Ana's birth certificate translated and hope to submit the application this week. We still have over 11 weeks until the wedding to get the 8 week process completed.

The weeks following Christmas were filled with phone calls and chat sessions where we planned the next trip and more specific wedding plans. We researched the immigration options during this time and looked into the licensing requirements for Ana to practice here. I had a project in Houston, TX in January and Ana met me there for a weekend. Her family has relatives there that they haven’t seen in over 10 years. We spent a day with them. I enjoyed watching them catch up on family news and sharing pictures. I learned a new work too. Before coming to visit, Ana was talking with her aunt and told her about me. Her aunt exclaimed, you’re dating a “bolillo”!? Apparently, I am “plain white bread.” So now I’m trying to think of breads that are made with brown sugar. We joked about the new name and had a great time with the family in Houston on Saturday. Some of them came to church and lunch with us on Sunday as well.

I made a couple more trips in March and April. On one of those trips, Nery’s fiancé, Farzin, was there at the same time. Farzin was born in Iran and is a dentist in Illinois. I don’t think the parents knew what to think that week with such variety in the house. As always, we had a great time eating, talking, translating and sight-seeing. One night at dinner, I was trying to tell a story in my broken Spanish. Ana was helping it along in Spanish for her parents and Nery was translating it back into English for Farzin. It was a very comical, ironic moment. Another night, Nery, Farzin, Gaby, Ana and I were having dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and Laina, a friend from Indiana sent me a text message asking me if we were married yet. I replied “No, but we’re enjoying the honeymoon.” Laina was having dinner with several other friends at the time and I got several responses asking “What??!!” On the menu was a “Honeymoon Salad” that Ana and I were sharing. I took a picture of it and sent it to everyone later. I don’t know what they were all thinking.

Laina asked the wedding question because we were hoping to start the process for the civil ceremony on one of these trips. We had been told that there was a 35 day waiting process once I applied for permission to marry in Mexico. There are several steps to go through when applying for permission. Ana had already acquired an instruction page listing all the documents we needed. Documents from the US need to have an apostille attached. An apostille is a state certification of a county document. They are available from the Secretary of State’s office in each state. Each Secretary of State can only certify documents from their respective state. I discovered this when trying to get an apostille in Indiana for my California birth certificate. Because of that oversight, we weren’t able to do anything in March. Thanks to my mother’s help, I was finally able to get the apostille for my birth certificate in time for the April trip. We drove two hours to the immigration office to apply for permission to marry. We started at the information desk to get directions. There are over a dozen desks or windows to visit depending on what you want to accomplish. We were sent to our first location to get the payment form. We then had to find a bank to pay the fee since the government offices don’t accept payments. We returned, with our receipt and a couple more copies of documents, to the next station where our documents were inspected and accepted. At the third station, the documents were reviewed and we were told that there was no 35 day waiting period, it was only 7-10 days. That was the good news. The bad news was that I couldn’t leave the country until after the wedding. Unfortunately, I only had three days available before returning to complete a critical project. We had to wait until the next trip when I could plan on staying long enough to complete the process.
The next trip was in May when we were able to complete the application and we had the civil wedding. This part of the story is told back in the first entry. Therefore, this concludes the historical overview. Occasionally I think of additional events or Ana reminds me of something interesting that happened along the way. I’ll add those in new posts along with the progress reports. By the time we are married, someone should be able to use our experiences to understand a little more of the immigration process. I’ll continue to add links to the variety of resources needed to enjoy the process.