The alarm went off at 4:30 am. It was still dark. I could barely peel my eyes open, but I had no choice. We had somewhere to be. I called the bank in Washington one last time to see if my documents had arrived. By a lucky chance, the person helping us had received them just five minutes ago. For one brief moment, it seemed like we might have a bank account. But then the lady from the bank emailed me back to say that I had a non-sufficient funds charge at my previous bank, and they couldn’t open the account until it had been paid. Of course, I haven’t used this account in well over a year, so this means that my ex-husband just kept sneaking money out of it until it was drained. Just one more way for him to screw up my life.
We set off up the street and easily found a taxi, even though the sun had barely risen. We easily got high speed rail tickets and sat down to enjoy the view one more time. The knot in my stomach was slowly growing bigger and bigger. I couldn’t even drink any of Geoff’s water, let alone eat breakfast. Through the technological wonder that is high speed rail, we were at the AIT office by 8 am, but I didn’t have high hopes. I fully expected to be turned away with a request for yet more documents.
I steadily grew more and more nervous with each step. When we got into the immigration room, none of the windows were open and no one was there. After a couple of minutes, somebody came to the window to collect our documents and then told us to take a seat and wait. We had brought a whole stack of papers. Anything we could think of that would show ties to the US and give evidence that we were leaving Taiwan for good. The half hour we had to wait for the immigration officer to check our documents was one of the most tense of my life. I was dizzy, hot, and nauseous. Geoff and I sat in silence, holding hands, both looking pale.
The shade behind which the immigration officer sat perusing our papers was raised a couple of inches so that we could watch his hands rummaging through our documents, taking a few seconds to read each one. He set our folder aside and looked through someone else’s file. He then opened the shade and another woman came into the window area. I heard the man say “everything looks fine” but I didn’t know if he was talking about us. I was near hyperventilating at this point. Finally, the new lady called us up to her window and said, “Okay, fill out this blue paper and take it to the courier desk.”
“Wait, what? Did we get it?
“Yes, now fill out this blue paper…”
I nearly collapsed and tears came into my eyes. After months of filling out forms, and a horrible week of sleepless nights worrying about a bank account, they granted us the visa without so much as a congratulations. Just goes to show how completely insignificant it is to them.
All this was accomplished by 9 am. We got back on the train and headed back home, fantasizing again about all the things we’re going to do in Hawaii. I feel such a huge sense of relief. All the sleep I’ve missed over the past week has suddenly caught up with me all at once. I’m completely exhausted. But I feel that for once, I’ll be able to sleep just fine.