My mother had to work the day I took my oath so my father had to take me to the Executive Office for Immigration Review Court at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City. It was a tall black and blue building and security was super intense.
The act of getting naturalized was a lot easier than the process I had to go through to get to this point. Essentially, I signed in, said the pledge of allegiance, got my certificate and went home. Easy enough, right? Wrong…
Once my father and I had made it through security, we went over to the sign-in station. The officer told me to locate my name, and sign next to it. I scanned through all the S’s and found “Sharley, Lauren”…I figured, Good enough! and signed.
We swam through a sea of foreigners…like real foreigners. People who I am sure paid someone to be there because there was no way these people know the exact acreage of the Louisiana Purchase or the difference between you’re and your.
We took our seats and readied ourselves for the opening ceremony. This elderly white man made his way to the podium and I thought he was going to have a heart attack several times as he read through what it means to be an American citizen and how this is a privilege bestowed upon a select few people. We said the pledge of allegiance, although I’m pretty sure the Russian dude behind me was praying, and waited for our names to be called.
Forty- seven minutes later, I heard, “Lauren Sharley.”
“Dad is that me?” I asked.
“Your last name is Sharkey, Lauren.” he laughed.
“I know that but it was Sharley when I signed in…do you think that’s me?”
“Lauren Sharley?” the man called again.
“Yeah, yeah…it’s probably just a typo. Get up there.”
I made my way to the podium and watched as my father happily snapped some generic photos such as me shaking hands with the presenter and the both of us holding my certificate, which was then placed into an envelope as my father and I made our way outside.
We were also given complimentary American flags which my mother didn’t appreciate because she was too busy freaking out over the fact that my certificate granted citizenship to Lauren Sharley…a detail my father and I did not find it pertinent to ask about.
I had to file a claim with the EOIR and the certificate with the correct name was mailed to me eight weeks later. My mother still calls my father and I idiots to this day but no matter…we still made it onto the cruise 🙂