Our diarist Anthea Kreston comes up against the hard face of German society:
I’m basically a pretty relaxed, chilled-out person. But with a lot of energy and ideas and plans. I don’t get stressed out. I guess my regular life and my violin life are exactly the same. Early and detailed preparation, advice from others, believing in my instincts, concert-ready in advance with time to settle and re-work, acceptance of my short-comings, willing and eager to take risks as long as they positively effect those around me, and with a triple-set of plans in the face of inevitable emergency. I’m here to enjoy the ride, to help others enjoy their rides, and to always try to improve as a person.
So, today, when I showed up at the visa office, 30 minutes before they open, with my messenger bag filled with every conceivable paper I might need, I was casually optimistic. Since moving out of the city of Berlin over two years ago, our path towards a settled and comfortable family visa has been rocky, unstable, time-consuming and extremely stressful. It has something to do with the fact that we are in the countryside now – they ask me questions like “why doesn’t Jason have a job“, and “why couldn’t they find a German to do your job?“. They didn’t ask things like this in Berlin, but now we live in the former East, and people seem to have different priorities. Not to say that getting an American visa for a European is any easier. I know it’s not.
When in Berlin, we were able to make an appointment (no longer possible – 2 months ago I showed up at our foreigners office at 6 am, stood outside for 3 hours until the office opened, then waited in a claustrophobic room with people clearly in much more dire straits than myself – a room full of refugee families), and had to have Jason pull the kids out of school and drive the one hour to the office, and all wait with me from 9:00 until 3:30, at which point they gave us, again, a three-month temporary paper (expires July 4). We have waited like this as a family 2 other times in the last 2 years, and Jason and I have gone individually or together at least another 6 times. To reiterate. I know the American Embassy also makes it Hell for people trying to get USA visas.
Two months ago they assured us that a three-year visa was being processed. So that’s what Jason went to get last week. Our processor said – just come, and knock on my door. So he went. There are always two, beefy, bald, scary guys in uniform who you have to get past in order to get into that small, stinky room that reeks of desperation. Jason said – Frau **** told me to come and knock. But the bouncers turned him away. Well, actually they said – “you have to take a number, but we ran out of numbers, so you can’t have a number, and you also can’t knock“.
So, today, we went again. What happens on July 4 if we don’t have new papers? Who knows. Why can’t we get an appointment, and why can’t they send us our visas, or why isn’t there a pick-up window, or a notice telling us what our status is, why can’t we call or email? It’s enough to even make ME slightly nervous. And we have tried everything, from hiring a specialist to come with us (I think they thought we were pretentious), bringing a friend (angry that we didn’t speak fluently) to going it alone (seems to be the best solution). So – today, Jason ran interference as I knocked. And I was turned away. And we waited. And I knocked again. And I was turned away again. But I didn’t budge.
So – what did we get? Another 3 months.
But, guess what? I am prepared in advance, in detail. I have savings. I have multiple sets of plans, advice from others, am willing to take risks as long as it positively effects those around me, and I trust my instincts. And I know that I love what I do, have several different scenarios that are already in place, and have a husband and kids who believe in me and don’t get stressed out. So, where will we be on September 26 when our visa runs out? Together and happy. That’s for sure.