“When can I see you again?” he said.
A few weeks and many dates later, I was headed to Antigua for my best friend’s wedding, with a layover in New York. As soon as I landed at JFK, I realized I didn’t have my U.S. passport, which I would need for my flight the next morning.
I panicked. The only way for me to make the wedding was if someone were to drive my passport to LAX and place it on the last overnight flight to JFK, a service I didn’t even know existed.
Fernando’s office was only a few miles away from my apartment, but I hesitated. My U.S. passport was in the same drawer as my Mexican one, which I had not updated since my divorce. Mexican passports for married women require them to list their husband’s last name. I hadn’t told Fernando about my first marriage. Now he might see my name conjoined with my ex-husband’s.
What if Fernando saw that and thought I was still married? Would he ever let me explain?
I thought about all the friends’ weddings I missed because I couldn’t travel outside the country and how much I regretted not being there for the people I loved. I couldn’t do it again. If Fernando eventually came to love me, he would need to understand or at least accept my need to hide the more difficult points of my life’s timeline.
“OK,” he said, “I’m on it. Tell me what to do.”
I gave him the combination to my cat sitter’s lockbox for keys and explained where to find my passport. The next morning, I picked it up from the airline counter and boarded my flight. As we ascended, I decided I would tell Fernando everything when I returned. I was tired of the evasion and lies. I am an American citizen, and if I couldn’t finally be free of my past, then all those years of anxiety would be for naught.
Maybe Fernando would run, as had so many others, when he learned the truth: that I had spent more than 10 years undocumented; that I had used fake papers to work at Goldman Sachs; that I was divorced at 33. Would it all be too much? Would he ever trust me? Romance may thrive on mystery, but love can’t be built on lies.