Restless Applicant Syndrome

Wedding Image by Kristen Leigh Conklin

So, this is the part of the process where Paul and I get to practice being patient. We were nominated on September 15, 2010; we sent in our complete medical & dental documents on November 2, 2010 (which were lost in the PC office and had to be resent—good I scanned every page!); our dental exams have been accepted; and now we wait. I’ve been legally cleared but Paul has not yet, though we’re told it’s probably nothing big. I’ve been extremely patient and keeping myself busy but now I’m feeling twinges of RAS = Restless Applicant Syndrome.

What complicates matters is that we got married last summer and according to a PC rule, we must be married for at least one full year before we ship out. So, August 2011 is the earliest we could depart and is the date for which we have been nominated. Since that is still 5 months away, I’ve been told we’re not high on the priority list for our full medical kits to be evaluated. We also started the application four months before our wedding so it seems like ever longer that we have been waiting. They didn’t consider our application complete until August when we could produce the marriage certificate.

It’s interesting to me that married couples must be legally married for one year. I wonder who made this rule and why. One year seems so arbitrary. I’ve been told that the rule used to be 6 months and was recently extended to the full year maybe 1-2 years back. Paul and I were domestic partners for a few years before we officially tied the knot but that is not recognized by the Federal Government in this case. I hope that either the Federal definition of marriage changes or PC changes their rules to allow all committed couples—regardless of sexual orientation—to serve together. Perhaps since the fall of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (I hope I never have to mention those words again) there is hope yet.

I imagine that serving in the Peace Corps will be one of the most difficult things I have ever done and it comforts me to know that I’ll be there with my partner. Yet, I imagine it will also present its own set of complications. We’ll need to make even more of an effort to stretch beyond our comfort zones—to speak Spanish at home together, to make new friends, to do things independently—in addition to being patient with one another, being supportive if one of us is struggling and if one of us is not, and always (always!) remembering that we are on the same team. Though this will be a challenging 27-month honeymoon for us, I feel so lucky that I can do this together with my best friend.

If any couples have served or will serve in PC together, please feel free to offer your advice, we’d love to hear from you! The good side to the waiting game is meeting other nominees in person and through the internet. It’s so comforting to know that we’re not alone.

Take care, Mari

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