Wednesday, March 31, 2010

La Prima Cosa
The thing about applying for your visa is that you can only do it 90 days before your airplane ticketed departure date. For a chronic planning-ahead, organized individual such as K, this is torture. Especially since the ten days leading up to our appointment, K started to get anxiety-induced stomach aches and an overall sense of foreboding. 

To make a long story shorter, after three years of waiting, today we had our appointment at the Italian Consulate to apply for our visa. It did not go well...

We had a nine o'clock appointment, as apparently did fifty other people who were standing in line on East 69th Street at 8:30. When the security guard finally got to us to check our IDs, she said that F could not come in, because his name wasn't on the paper even though the outsourced Irish reservations operator had assured us that was not the case. So K & T wait inside and F waits outside. T's eyes get larger than usual and her already bitten down nails get smaller.

When they finally get called to the window, F does get to come inside, but things are already going south fast. Our plan is to ask for what is called the visto per residenza elettiva/elective residence visa. Now strictly speaking, perhaps this is a stretch--because it is probably intended for people who are either retired on a pension or independently wealthy and we are neither. But we've read on the internet about people who have finagled it and we are SO prepared.

The first answer delivered after about three minutes is, "No, never, never, ever." A hundred butterflies in K's stomach die a horrible, plunging, thudding death. Then just as we are about to turn to leave, K pulls out her high-drama Italian (as learned from watching Un Posto al Sole, a very popular Italian soap opera), and ties in the horrible earthquake in L'Aquila, the floods in Tuscany, the precarious state of the Italian economy, as well as our abiding love of Italian language and culture and T's educational opportunities and there is a breathy silence in the waiting area while our fellow visa seekers hold their collective breath. Visa official number one, an unnatural frizzy blond with a runner's body but compassionate eyes sighs. She responds, "well still probably no, but you can come back at the beginning of next week with more documentation and speak to the Supervisor when she is back from vacation." And so we wait. We decide to come back the following Monday after Easter.

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