When I first came to the States, I was told to visit a doctor to get checkups for my immigration paperwork. So I visited one of the clinics listed. It was in a luxury building. The doctor was facing the big window filled to overflowing with blue sky, rocking the shiny leather chair. He slowly turned around, looked at my paper, and said, “You know…”

He stopped.

He frowned and my brain started generating all kinds of scenarios: Oh no, is there anything wrong with my application? Am I sick? Did they find something wrong with me? Please, doctor, say something! The airport announces that “If you see something, say something”, right? Should I mention it now? Is it bad timing to joke? Why is he still frowning and oh no, his frown is getting bigger, WHY? What should I do? Oh! I know I really should have eaten buttery toast instead of oatmeal this morning if this was the end of my life. Wait, the end of my life? OMG, that’s it! I’m done! I’m doomed! Goodbye, Earth! I’m gonna miss you, such a beautiful planet. Oh, my, why is this happening to me, why is the sky so blue, why my shoe size is seven?!

The doctor sneezed.

It was a big one. The storm in my brain was blown away, my brain got rebooted. We both laughed but for a different reason.

And then I realized my shoe size was 6.5, not 7.

It’s been many years since then. My immigration process was a long, confusing, and sometimes hilarious journey. Now I’m a proud Japanese American with an American passport.

My home country doesn’t allow dual citizenship, so my birthright citizenship was stripped away the moment I took the oath and became a citizen of the U.S. However, for someone who had spent most of her life feeling like an outcast, being welcomed as a citizen meant everything to her.

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