While I was on the 15th floor of an office building in downtown Chicago, my siblings were lounging in a plaza across the street, discussing how I had been strong and calm before my appointment. “But when she comes out, she will collapse.”
They were right. Of course they were. They had watched me meticulously gathering my paperwork over the last several months. I had read everything once, twice, a dozen times. They had seen me bend over backwards to satisfy the requirements of a Spanish residence visa.
Fifteen stories up in the one-room Spanish consulate, I watched two other applicants turned away due to unsatisfactory paperwork. Would I be next? I had tried so hard, but had I missed something? They called my name.
I was so nervous that I couldn’t even read the tidy sticky notes that I had stuck to my paper-clipped and stapled stacks of paper.
“Application form?” The accented voice was muted through the glass window.
I slid the form through the slot. Why didn’t they have personal interview rooms instead of making us feel like paroled prisoners requesting our belongings?
“Letter of invitation?”
Another man approached and looked over my interviewer’s shoulder. They discussed something in great length and jotted some notes on my application form. I stood, breathless until nearly purple. Was something wrong? Didn’t I have the right papers?
The second man asked me a few questions with an alarmingly furrowed brow. I deflated. But it was okay. I would have to start over with some of it. But at least I could go home now. I could just climb in that shiny elevator and disappear.
But the man said, “Okay, I trust you. I will try to get it to you in time.”
I wasn’t sure what he was “trusting” me about. The answers to the questions he had asked were on the papers in front of him. But I didn’t ask him to explain himself. Prolonging our talk felt risky.
“Proof of insurance?”
I slid my translated insurance letter through the slot. The list went on until I had handed over every one of my documents. There were no complaints, no outbursts, no declarations that I hadn’t gathered the correct things.
The interviewer gave me a curious glance as I packed up my things. Perhaps he was analyzing how I would survive in Europe. But I didn’t care because gliding down 15 floors in a polished elevator was my red carpet.
Now the waiting would begin, and with it came the possibility of a rejected application. But for today, I could be done!
That is why I collapsed when I saw my siblings waiting for me in the plaza. And then we went to Giordano’s for celebratory deep dish pizza.