Annnnnyhoo, today is a fairly big day for me, because I am finally making my identity formal. Having lived with the ghost of my bastarding biological roots permanently haunting my existence (note: administratively, not emotionally), today is the day the papers have been signed, and my name is now officially the name I want and have been using anyway for all these years. Which is important as:
- France has up until now refused to give me any respect whatsoever, due to this birth cert/passport mismatch debacle: goodbye social security, and with it, free healthcare. I also just know the university is going to want to know my blood group, my grandfather's shoe size, and countless other all-important details before they will let me enter their grounds, so I'm glad to be gathering all this documentation now
- It allows me some freedom psychologically, and allows me to make a permanent statement of the rejection of 50% of my blood 'family'. All I need to decide now is whether I should inform them of this change (and whether they'd care).
If you were looking for ideas to get you started."issued Deed Polls for fun names such as Jellyfish McSaveloy, Toasted T Cake, Nineteen Sixty-Eight, Hong Kong Phooey, Daddy Fantastic, One-One-Eight Taxi, Ting A Ling, Huggy Bear, Donald Duck, Jojo Magicspacemonkey and James Bond."
So anyway, because I live abroad, my 'witness' needed to be a notary or solicitor. I emailed a couple, and started talking to this one woman who suggested we meet at a local cafe at 10.30pm today. Bit weird, but who am I to judge? Maybe she's an insomniac? Maybe she's the sort of person who starts work around 4, and finishes up at midnight. Maybe she's a psycho killer luring me into her psycho killing trap using a 'oh I'm a solicitor, let's meet in a dark alley way so I can sign your documents' facade. Or maybe, she's just a flake.
I got a call at 10.30am saying she was at the cafe, and where was I? Ummm, sitting in front of the telly eating Craves? She apologized, she'd meant to say 10.30am in her email. I ummmed and ahhhed, basically not wanting to say "Look, you're a working woman, and I...well, I'm actually still in my pyjamas, so can you sit there and make your coffee last another half hour please?". The best I could manage on the spot was a weak "Oh, I just need to put my contact lenses in...." but luckily she suggested coming over to my house, which is just next door (or as I disgustingly put it via email, 'a spit away').
So, she came over, gave me her life story, waxed lyrical re the holiday value of cottages in county Wexford, which was embarrassing, as just minutes before I'd been discussing Wexford, in the context of: "Who the hell would ever want to go there on holiday?" Apparently it's the 'Irish Riviera'. We talked about how she is the 'poor one in the relationship' with her partner, about her struggles career-wise during the recession, about house prices in the Churchtown area, and finally, almost as an after-thought, we signed the documents.
She needed to check my photo ID first, and she held the passport up to my face (thought people only did that in films?), and said "It's funny, you look different here". I completely froze. Personally, I always feel suspicious when I am in an environment in which people are looking for suspicious people. At airports, for example. I feel convinced they're going to put my bag through X-Ray, pull me over and say "Now, I'm just going to have a quick look in your bag if you don't mind", and pull out a million dollars worth of crack along with a selection of firearms. When I walk through the metal detector, I don't know what to do with my eyes - look frankly at the officer? Look away? I usually end up doing some weird 'oh, look how relaxed and unguilty I am' smile whilst simultaneously scanning the other side for signs of my bag.
It's the same with banks. I walk into a bank, I automatically feel like some shady pauper, even if I have money in my account. And even if I didn't - who cares? Not their problem. And yet, I'm always slightly on edge, as if the guy behind the desk could any minute now say "I've got some bad news Madam - your account is overdrawn by 10 grand, and my sources are indicating that you spent it all on lingerie and cigarettes. I'm afraid I'm going to have to close the account, and issue you with a court date if you do not pay back this money within 24 hours".
So anyway, after feeling suspicious and getting the documents signed, I stood up (fairly brusquely I might add), and essentially frogmarched her out of the house, calling after her as she wobbled her way down the drive, making futile promises of checking out holiday rentals in Wexford, before slamming the door and immediately striding out the back for a cigarette. It made me think how well I handled this situation, compared to when I was 18 and starting out in Germany. Jesus Christ, I was such a pushover back then. I would listen to life stories for hours on end, out of a fear of hurting the other person's feelings if I showed a little impatience/fed-upness. I listened to this little old lady's life story on a train in Germany once - it lasted an hour and a half, and I literally understood not a SINGLE WORD. She didn't seem to mind though, and took my occasional "Oh ja?", and "Oh ja!" and "Oh....ja."with grace and style.