What was supposed to be a two-week window from police visit to cohabitation appointment turned into a wait of one and a half months due to delays with the processing and postage of the police report thanks to a couple of public holidays. In the time that we had waited, the cohabitation office had moved to a new location! After several calls to the cohabitation office to check our papers were in order, we finally had an appointment for our interrogation.
We were advised to allocate at least an hour and a half for the interviews. Since the interviews would be conducted in French, we needed to find an accredited interpreter for Merv. Luckily the translator who’d helped with our single certificates was also accedited as an interpreter, and was available on the day of our scheduled appointment.
When our number was called I was seated at a desk and given a form to fill out while Merv and the interpreter were summoned to another room. The form was divided into two parts, each with identical questions regarding each of our personal particulars and family background, which presumably would also be filled in by Merv with our answers compared for consistency. Then it was a matter of waiting for Merv to return. Even though we’d been together for over twelve years, the wait was extremely nerve-racking. I found myself second-guessing the responses I’d filled in on the form, and wondering what sorts of questions they would ask and how Merv might answer them. Filled with this irrational anxiety, it was almost a relief when I was ushered into the interview room.
I was taken to a small interview room and was questioned for almost an hour about Bec and our life together. It was actually alot more difficult than you’d expect. The questions were simple enough, and in line with what I’d anticipated, but there was something about being in this official setting, communicating with someone through an interpreter, that made drawing on my knowelge and memories somehow extremely challenging.
Questions about how long we’d been together, our families and their opinions about our relationship, our friends and our travels, and even our hobbies and favourite foods were asked. It’s funny, but when you’ve been together as long as we have and know each other so well, it’s sometimes hard to articulate these details that we never need to single out since they have just become a part of our life. I was asked to describe Bec’s traits and qualities, and also my own, I assumed so that they could compare our answers afterwards. Luckily they seemed to be more focused on getting a sense of how genuine a couple we were rather than exact matches in our responses, which only became clear to me when I discovered that Bec had told them her favorite food was bacon – I’d told them her favorite food was vegetables!
When Bec came out after her interrogation with a small nod in my direction, I knew things must have gone well. She had been told on the spot that everything was fine and we were now being ushered to another office to sign the Declaration of Legal Cohabitation. This was quite a big moment for us – this not only symbolised our first step forward with my residency visa application, but also meant that we were now officially a family unit. We had now been declared legal cohbiatants.