How could it be anything else? My parents only call on weekends. I don’t know if calling rates are still higher during prime weekday hours, but that’s been the established practice. Weekends or, if absolutely necessary, after 5 p.m. during the week. Who died?
When I stepped out to feed the meter, I listened to the message. Something about Homeland Security. She needed me to call. Oh, no. Was I added to the no-fly list? Back when my novel was published, I signed up for Google Alerts to let me know whenever my name was mentioned online. I was hoping to be linked to (glowing!) book reviews, but alas, my name is rather common and, as it turns out, people who share my name die a lot and commit terrible crimes. If I was banned from flying, it was a case of mistaken identity. I’m the author, not the murderer. We’d get things cleared up, but would that happen before my scheduled return flight to Canada? What a nuisance.
Obviously, the creative writing spark had been extinguished for the day. Summarily spit upon. I drove back to the place where I am house-sitting and called Mom. No roaming charges. They taught me to be telephonically responsible.
I was way off. Good thing, too. All the relatives were still alive (as far as we knew) and there didn’t seem to be any glitches to my flight plans. My writing may not have garnered raves, but it hadn’t led to a transportation ban.
So why the call? Why the mention of Homeland Security? Thirty-two months ago, I got my parents as American citizens to petition to sponsor me for a visa to move back to the U.S. It’s been a frustrating process. Not really a process because nothing had been processed. The Immigration Department’s website stated its goal of working through petitions within five months; however, the estimated wait time kept increasing—last I checked it was forty-seven months! (With that kind of gap, I think they should delete the goal from the site. Why accentuate poor performance?) Needless to say, I’d stopped obsessing over my chances of moving back. I’d stopped griping about the concrete, miles-high barrier that stopped a person who’d lived sixteen years in the U.S., gone to high school there, obtained two degrees there and been admitted to the California Bar from re-entry. Out of my control. Just like the entire TV setup at the place where I’m staying. Forget about it. Learn to live without.
“They’ve approved the petition,” my mother said. And then she went ahead and read the entire letter. All I heard was “approved” followed by “blah, blah, blah.” I got the part that mattered.
And so it begins. There is no guarantee of what is to come, but the visa process shall finally begin…within thirty days. Yes, a real process! I realize that the whole thing will take longer than I would care to speculate—let’s just go with a year or two—but I may have options about relocating. Not just dreamy, rueful notions but real options!
Return to Los Angeles?
As Tim said on the phone last night, “Sounds like you’ve got a special connection with the city.”
Yes, Tim. The guy I just started dating only weeks before my extended summer stay in L.A. The guy with whom I’d like a “special connection”. And, yes, that complicates everything.
But it’s still early. Lots can and will evolve in the months to come…regarding my visa status and regarding my dating status. A few months ago, I felt I had no options. In anything. I had no control. Nothing ahead of me. How strange to think I may have things to look forward to. There may be a conflict to come, but it is a luxury to have to a choice to make.
Let’s see how it all unfolds.