So….today was the day. My interview at the US Embassy was this morning. I’m guessing you’ve got to know me a little by now and would absolutely know I was nervous ! My friends said the interview would just be a formality.. the fact that my husband is American and my children have American passports would mean it was a rubber stamp for me. I certainly wasn’t convinced of that… and quite rightly so.
I had a pile of paperwork to take. The online checklist was helpful but some things weren’t crystal clear and as I’ve said before, there is no telephone helpline at the Embassy.. I took two files…. one for everything I knew I would need as per the checklist… the other was stuff I thought I ‘might’ need. When you arrive at the embassy you go through a security booth outside. Your bags are checked and your passport taken from you. Once clear you collect your bag and end up inside an iron fence where you make your way up the steps into the huge building. Several guards, both men and women, are outside with guns and they line your walkway in. It’s all become very very real at this point.
Once inside everyone is incredibly helpful and polite. At the entrance most of the staff are English and seem to know you’re nervous and they do their best to lead you to the correct place. I was warned online that this could take up to three hours so was prepared to be there a while. Within a very short time I was called to my first information booth where I met the first American consular. My fingerprints were taken and each piece of paperwork was asked for separately. I’m completely organised for anything like this so everything was in the correct order I was asked for it. I was then told to sit down and wait to be called for my interview.
Within 15 minutes I was called again. Another American and this time more thorough questioning..more paperwork asked for…more fingerprints taken…
Eventually I’m told my visa will be granted. I need to send some more information by email and the visa will be forwarded. At this point I ask a few questions that I hadn’t been able to find online. He doesn’t seem phased by my list and I sense a little amusement at my lack of experience or wisdom about the whole process.
At this point I can leave. Just over an hour and I’ve done it. I feel soooo much better now!!
I’ve decided to have this lovely Christmas with my family.. My brothers and sister and their families, my nieces and nephews, and of course The Pings. I have about two weeks to just relax, eat, drink, be merry, dance, sing, play my music, listen to my brother on his radio show. I’ve got a whole family games night at my house on Christmas Eve Eve Friday, Christmas Eve breakfast out in the town with my sister Lisa. Midnight mass in the town followed by deep fried Camembert at Lisa’s. Christmas Day lunch with about 20 of my family, Boxing Day with Lisa and the whole family as we do every year. New Years Eve with my brother and the family with gorgeous food, fantastic music and fireworks. Hopefully a meet up with The Pings at some point on New Years Eve….. Our normal family Christmas stuff. But I’m very mindful that this is likely to be the last Christmas like that. Just putting that down brings tears to my eyes.
Thank goodness for Skype and FaceTime. I plan to be a part of their Halstead Christmas next year in some form… but I know things won’t be the same. As you can see I have a large family and we are very close. Since losing my sister Sue, we have grown closer and stronger in many ways…. I won’t allow that to change and I know my family are behind my move for the right reasons. Luckily the world is not such a large place now and it’s so much easier to be in touch. I look forward to all our promises of contact and holidays ….
So. After Christmas the fun will start. Lists will be written.. boxes will be packed ..plans will be made.
Last Saturday we celebrated my Mums birthday at Lisa’s and gave out the family Christmas cards. Lovely food and just all being together. We have had this tradition for as long as I can remember. My brother Geoff had a Chevrolet Impala when he was young. He absolutely loved that car. Unfortunately he didn’t have it very long as he had quite a bad accident with a red bus in Mungo Park Road, Rainham and wrote the car off. He was more upset about the car than his shattered body at the time. Strangely enough we spent most of the evening last Saturday at Lisa’s trying to recall the registration number.. plenty of alcohol, lots of laughter and loads of memories but we could only recall the last bit..UMP.
I hope you continue to read my blog and join me and my family on this funny journey with all its frustrations and craziness. Please do send me your comments and thoughts. You may think of something I haven’t and I really am grateful for any input you may have.
I think I’ll do a Christmas blog so until next time ….