I May, In Fact, Be AlivePosted: April 24, 2014
I was born a very young person with a short attention span. I paid no attention to formalities like keeping records or filling out forms. It never occurred to me to keep track of the hospital staff involved in my delivery, or even the time of my birth. That inattention to detail was the start of my problem, lo these many years later.
You see, I would like to get a passport. Once I get that document, I’ll be able to vacation outside the United States. Todd Snider wrote that “a man hasn’t technically flown until he lands”. In the spirit of Mr. Snider’s thought, I will also use my passport to return to the United States.
Nations are pretty particular about knowing who wanders over their borders. My home country is no exception. If they’re going to watch me go and then give me a pass to just stroll back in when I’m good and ready, they want to confirm that I am who I claim I am. So, one of the things they’ve asked to see in the process of giving me a key to the front door of the country is my birth certificate.
Since I was young and did not have pockets when I earned my birth certificate I do not have a copy of it at hand. That vital record is in the hands of the State of New Jersey…I think.
Dear New Jersey, May I Please Have My Birth Certificate?
A month ago, I filled out a form online, requesting that The Garden State send a copy of my birth certificate. I still don’t have it.
I’m amazed that obtaining a birth certificate can take so long in this modern age. The time between applying for and getting proof that I was born has given me time to wonder about some things.
I wonder if the delay is political in nature. While it is completely ridiculous to think that the Governor of New Jersey would ever have a hand in punishing someone for offending him, I wonder if people around him might have put the kibosh on my birth certificate for some perceived slight toward Governor Chris Christie. Maybe I’ve said the wrong thing. It wouldn’t be a big leap to assume that the record of my birth is still in limbo because of something I’ve said. In fact, I’d say it would be a short leap; a distance that would be easily bridged.
Perhaps my parents haven’t been completely truthful about the facts surrounding my birth. Maybe I wasn’t born in New Jersey at all. What if I am Korean? My mother and father aren’t Korean, so maybe I was adopted. I don’t have a problem with being adopted. If I am, I’m grateful to them for the love and support they gave me as I grew up in their home.
I’m grateful, but I’m a little miffed that Mom and Dad did nothing to teach me about my culture.
Is the delay in getting my birth certificate due to the way New Jersey keeps records? When I ordered my birth certificate over the internet I imagined a streamlined electronic system that would locate and reproduce the document from a digital scan of the ancient papyrus original.
Now I’ve come to believe that New Jersey stores vital records in a vast warehouse, staffed by an elderly clerk who wears a green visor. His arthritic knees ache as he totters up and down the aisles of file cabinets. His breath rattles in his rib cage, lungs obstructed by inhaling the dust that gets kicked up when he opens the drawers containing the birth records of the baby boom.
But Wait, There’s Hope!
Or perhaps I simply do not exist.
That would have been a reasonable thought, since the record of my earliest existence has proven so difficult to find. But two days ago I got an email saying that the request for my birth certificate had been updated to “pending”. I pondered that, wondering exactly what that status meant and how long my existence would pend before it could be confirmed.
And today’s email brought even better news. My order has been “Completed”. After an entire month, I may be getting my birth record. Now that the month-long search for that record is over, could it be long before I get confirmation (with a raised seal end everything) that I came into existence fifty-two years ago in New Jersey, one of the United States that I would like to travel from and return to?
Maybe I’m not even Korean. That’d serve my parents right – spending all that money to adopt me and bring me over…and I was here the whole time!
And the best part is that if the old man with the green visor found my birth papyrus it confirms that I was alive. But since I didn’t have him check for a death certificate, no one has seen any record of my passing.
I may, in fact, be alive.
Thank you New Jersey.