The shipyards are literally a 5 minute bike ride from my house. I pulled up to the security booth at the entrance, handed over my ID for confirmation, and coasted down a looooooooong hill. To my left was the sudden drop of a dry dock, larger than I could possibly explain, with a massive naval ship nestled into it. Between me and the edge ran a set of tracks, upon which maneuvered a series of cranes that lifted materials off of trucks and down into the work area. On my right, I passed all sorts of buildings, a couple of which were old and brick but most were temporary corrugated metal warehouses or prefab office blocks. Straight ahead: The Pacific Ocean. Well, a part of it, anyway… A large natural harbour that has seen more action in the past 500 years than most other places on this coastline, so well does its geography fit the needs of military defence and the project of colonization.
At the very end of the yard was the building I wanted: Human Resources. More confirmations of my identity, then I was sitting at the desk of the HR rep who’d called me the day before. After many delays, my security clearance application form was finally ready to be signed off, so that I could qualify for not just the regular positions at the shipyard but also the secret ones. (Heh heh… Secrets!)
As I was checking through all the documents, the HR rep and I chatted: She told me how many family members had birthdays this week, including her husband, and how it was fun but also stressful, and I showed my sympathy for the predicament, which is similar to what I experience in the month of May. I got to the part of the form where I’d given background info regarding Oats, and realized that I’d originally submitted it before she began using my last name as her own. I explained the situation to the HR rep, and she assured me it didn’t matter, that they’d figure it out.
“Isn’t it confusing sometimes, with common-law and name changes and all that…?” She said. “Oh… Unless, I mean, did you get married?”
“Yep,” I told her. “A couple months ago.”
“Congratulations!” She replied, “When my ex and were together, we couldn’t legally marry yet, so did the whole legal name-change thing, and it was such a hassle! I was just talking with her last week, and she’s getting married again, but says that she’ll be keeping her name this time.”
Ha! Yes, FG, the whole world is queer.
“Oh, I hear you,” I said, “My partner legally changed her name once before, with her ex, and it’s been interesting keeping up with what documents are issued under what names.”
“The best was when my ex worked here at the shipyards for a while, after we’d split but before I’d taken my husband’s name,” the HR rep told me. “People kept asking if we were sisters, to which we responded with, NO, WE’RE DIVORCED.”
I decided that I liked this woman, with her sarcasm and her queer past and her friendly attitude. Finishing up with all the required signatures, I shook her hand and she said she hoped she’d be seeing me again soon. Me too, I replied.
Fuck, it’d be so great, to get a position at the shipyards… Union wages, 5 minutes from home, a small inkling of queer acceptance… It’s so funny, sometimes, to catch myself with these wishful thoughts, when 3 years ago all I wanted was to get into graduate school in another city. I’m glad things have worked out the way they have, really I am, but it’s still strange to realize how I’ve changed, how different my life is now from then.