You have packed up your life. Thrown a leaving party. You have cried with everyone you love and you are emotionally drained from so many hysterical goodbyes. You have your upgraded Virgin Atlantic ticket in your hand and eagerly await your luxurious premium economy seats.
It’s now time and you are ready.
Ready to embark on your new life. Your new future. The life you thought would never be possible. Life with the person who you briskly slipped into an intimacy with from which you both never recovered. (S. Fitz)
But wait. Do you have your package?
Two weeks after your life-changing interview at the US Embassy you will be sent a package. You will have no idea what is inside the recorded delivery envelope sent directly to your address. Every time you glance at your parcel you are over come by a nauseous wave of both nerves and excitement as you read the ridiculously large font sized print sprawled across the envelope:
To be opened by the United States Immigration or Public Health Service Officer.
This sealed package must be surrendered to the United States Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry into the United States.
DO NOT PACK IT – IT MUST BE HAND CARRIED.
You may have a good idea what is inside… paper work, photographs; your visa. But you do not actually know. Again, why have you not been told? Why is there no information online regarding the contents of the package?
You stare at those words and more thoughts hit you: What is going to happen once I hand this package over at customs? Will I be judged, assessed and questioned? Will they believe me?
Once you arrive at the airport, go to Smiths and immediately over buy as many crisps, chocolates and biscuits as you can squeeze into your already full hand luggage. This is your last chance to stock up on English goods and trust me, it will be the first thing you miss. But in doing so; do not crush your package.
We all know that the eight hour plane journey isn’t the most enthralling time of our lives yet, you will appreciate it. You will feel free. Literally free as a bird as you guide through the sky towards the light, towards… life.
Finally, the plane lands on American soil and you make your way to customs. Please, for your own sanity, check your hand luggage; do not forget the package.
You join the end of the customs line and the feelings that you know all too well hit you. Sweaty palms. Heat. Churning stomach. Inability to stand still. You glance around and watch in anticipation as people ‘enter the United States of America’ after the five minute questioning and finger printing procedure. The line moves and you shuffle forward slightly more. Eventually, you are signalled over to the booth. You hand over your package, as instructed by the text, and watch as the blunt faced customs officer scans the text. You will be asked to follow customs officer number two as he marches you off down to the other end of the room clutching the package, judging eyes of the people in line tracing your every move.
You will be taken to the gloomiest place in the entire airport. A small, box like room containing tired, confused and nervous people of only a few different races. Customs man two will hand over your package to the custom officers behind the desk who literally are the scariest people you’ll ever see, and leave. You will be left to sit and wait in what felt like, ‘the room of disappointment’. Shit. Did something go wrong? Is this procedure? Am I getting shipped back home?
After an hour of waiting miserably, jet lagged and feeling like you have broken the law… eventually you will be called over to the desk. Like a child in detention, you will be reminded again that you must marry your partner in 90 days. You will nod and agree enthusiastically in the hope that this speeds up the time that you are spending in the room of gloom. Eventually, you will be congratulated on your upcoming marriage and sent off to collect your bags; the only bags left in the entire airport and like your package, left in limbo in the middle of the baggage collection hall. Your entire life possessions just left waiting, ownerless.
You grab your suitcases and launch them onto a cart. Breathe. You are five minutes away from being reunited with your love. Reunited knowing that there are no limits. No time frames. No days to miserably count down. No more FaceTime calls. No end date.
You made it.
What better way to celebrate than with a bottle of champagne?