Breaking News

Often, we watch the news, but we don’t see the connection to ourselves. Especially in today’s crazy political climate. The day’s headlines fly by and it sounds a lot the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons. ‘Mwha, Mwha, Mwha Mwha Mwha Mwha’. Nothing more. And then suddenly, it does effect you. Very personally.

On December 22nd, I overnighted our FBI background checks to the US State Department to gain the Apostle. I checked the FedEx website and they arrived on the 26th. I called them last Friday to check on the Status and they told me they had logged them on the 29th – 3 days later. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t so concerned because they are supposed to ‘process’ the documents in 2-4 business days. I had included an overnight FedEx return envelope so I figured I would get them this week.

Today, I checked the FedEx website but they haven’t been shipped yet. So I called the State Department again. It seems with the ‘cyclone bomb’ we’ve all heard about that dumped feet of snow on the East Coast of the US last week – it’s going to be at least 12-15 business days for them to finally get them back to me.

But here’s the catch. Our wonderful Congress is threatening a government shut down and the timing of it, if they reach no agreement, means that next Thursday will be the first day where there isn’t an employee in the Dept. of Authentications at the US State Department. So if our background checks are not Apostillized and put in the FedEx envelope by Wednesday of next week, we will not be able to get them translated in time for our visa appointment at the Consulate on January 29th.

It seems unbelievable to me that our going to Spain hinges on the US Congress – so little confidence have I in that august body. And now their shenanigans have an immediate, direct impact on me and my life. But, after I took 10 deep breaths, I decided I’m not going to let it bother me. This final piece in the puzzle is so entirely out of my hands, I won’t let it drain my energy. I have other things to do.

I’ve found a few more boxes of old papers in the garage and I finished shredding them. Just when I thought it might be safe to let go of the industrial shredder. I’m considering these documents I’m cutting into tiny pieces, an offering to the gods that control Document Hades.

‘Oh controllers of all things certified and notarized. Please – I’m begging you. Just this one last thing.’ I said today as I fed paper into our shredder.

I’m thinking they heard me. Right at that moment, the shredder overheated and stopped working. A clear sign that someone is listening on the other side.

Pulling Teeth

Yesterday, was going to be another milestone on my quest. On Dec. 26th, the assistant I hired in Valencia Express mailed me our certificates of insurance. These are very important in getting our visas. In fact, we can’t get visas without these. Our health insurance must have certain components and this certificate will say the words they need to hear to check that requirement off the list.

I stayed home all day yesterday because DHL required a signature for the Express envelope. That was fine. I had a tracking number. I looked it up and saw it had made it to LA and it would be here by the end of day. It’s the holidays, so that’s a relative term. We’ve gotten things as late as 9pm.

So I waited and told my daughter, that if the door bell rang or she heard a knock, to answer it, because it would be important. It sounds strange that I had to tell her that but for my children’s entire life I had told them never to answer the door (stranger danger) so I felt like I needed to be explicit. She gave me the requisite ‘eye roll’ and a sarcastic ‘Got it.’

At around 8pm last night, I refreshed the DHL website to see where this very important, crucial document might be and found an interesting surprise. It was in LEIPZIG, GERMANY!!! Yes, they had sent it back to Europe from Los Angeles. Huh?! I called my husband over and he looked at it.

‘That can’t be right.’ he said.

To which I started laughing like a crazy person. He looked at me concerned.

‘Of course its right. This is the force field that surrounds me where these visa documents are concerned. They can’t actually see me. I don’t show up on radar.’

He shook his head and walked away.

Early this morning I called DHL and was told that ‘in the sort, sometimes this can happen’ like that makes it OK. But he gave me some good news. My document has made it to Cincinnati, so yeah. I’m sure it will find it’s way here eventually. I sent their CEO a nice ‘Happy New Year’ note to make myself feel better.

Now I’m sitting in the oral surgeon’s office while my daughter has her 4 wisdom teeth extracted. And again, I have to laugh. This whole process has been like one big dental appointment. ‘Pulling Teeth’ is the right metaphor and now I’m in a place today where they actually do it. Perhaps the gods in document HELL will see that and give me some sort of dispensation. But I’ve decided I just have to laugh. There is no other choice.

What if it All Worked Out?

As we’ve gone through the last few months of preparing to move to Valencia, we’ve spent time with friends and family. It’s been wonderful to connect and reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a while. They always have questions about the details and our decision.

I’ve also had to stop some of the subscriptions that we’ve gotten over the years. Things like a monthly massage club I belong to at a local Spa. And at times, I’ve had to explain why I’m stopping the service. Moving out of the country is one of the reasons I can stop contracts early.

When I explain what we’re doing, usually there is some kind of surprise. Always, there is a ‘Wow! Seriously? Why?’. Then I have to explain that we are indeed moving, that we love Spain and can’t wait to experience living there. And then I invariably get, ‘Are you sure its not just a mid-life crisis?’

My response? ‘Yes, that’s exactly what it is! Except I prefer the term ‘Mid-life Revelation.”

They always look at me like I’m crazy. But if its a subscription service, the contract is voided. If it’s people I know a bit better, they sometimes have an off the cuff list of all the things that could go wrong, might become a big problem, or reasons we might reconsider. Then there are the things that ‘they’ve heard’. That someone they know, who knows someone, has had a terrible time with. It goes something like this:

‘I’ve heard their health care is like the third world. My friend’s went there and they had to go to the emergency room and it was awful. You know it’s socialized medicine?’ When I tell them that none of this is true and that our medical insurance is 1/5th of the costs is is here, with 0 deductibles, their mouths hang open. ‘Well, they certainly never tell you that when they talk about socialized medicine in the US.’ I laugh – ‘Yeah, I know. But it’s true.’

‘I heard, from a friend, whose daughter had a Spanish boyfriend, that their taxes are terrible over there.’ To this, I explain all the things that are supported by their taxes. Things like top notch higher education, social safety net, and a host of other things. Their roads, infrastructure and transportation systems are much better than the US. You don’t have to own a car to get around the country at reasonable prices. But no country is perfect. We should know.

‘Living in Europe is expensive. You’ll run out of money really fast and you’ll be back here before you know it. With nothing left.’ I love this one. It sounds more like a wish than a statement of reality. When I tell them how much a house or apartment costs – they choke on their drink. ‘How is it so cheap?’ they ask. I respond with ‘I don’t know. But even their groceries and home furnishing and clothing is about 1/3 of what it is here.’

Then the conversation often turns.

‘Well, you know we’ve always talked about maybe moving to somewhere cheaper. Keep me posted on how it all goes. We might consider it.’

I don’t blame them. I used to be in the ‘What if…?’ crowd. My husband, Jeff, has helped me let that go. When ever I went negative over the years. Coming up with all the disaster scenarios that might go wrong. ‘What if this happened? What if that happened?’ he would respond with, ‘What if it all worked out beautifully? What if it’s the best thing we’ve ever done?’

He helped me go from always preparing for the worst, to looking for a path through. And then looking at the bright side. It doesn’t mean we’re not prepared for challenges on this adventure. It just means that we’re more focused on the upside and all the fun we’re going to have heading off into the unknown. And as we do this, I think we can help others think the same way.