I walked down to the corner store to pick up a top-up card for Alannah's cell phone, and along the way was, umm, "greeted" by a staggering drunk, holding up a boombox cranking hip-hop tinged dance music, challenging me to dance. I couldn't figure out if it was just someone out of his gourd, or one of those tektonik kids. Then again, it's hard to tell the difference.
Yup, I'm back in Paris. After a mercifully short trip back to the US, I now have a permanent work visa to France. This is such a big deal that our return to France is being marked with all-night parties and fireworks and general drunkenness this weekend, on par - once again - with a national holiday or something. Who knew we were so important?
All kidding aside (it's Bastille Day on Monday, kids...) we're only celebrating half-heartedly. Not only out of my natural aversion to patriotism and nationalism of any sort, but also because we're only half legal.
You see, thanks to some missteps in the glorious French bureaucracy, I have my visa... and Alannah doesn't.
Leaving some details out, the day of our trip to the French consulate in San Francisco was comprised of tense optimism and anticipation, followed by some held-back tears, stunned disbelief, and a number of extremely pissed off emails back to my company in France, who is supposed to be taking care of this stuff.
Four and a half months of rushed wedding planning, transatlantic moving, living out of suitcases in hotels and temporary apartments, travel back-and-forth to make consulate appointments, hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in legal document translations and overnight couriers to transport them... and we're still not done. Because somebody forgot to file a piece of paperwork.
Words cannot describe the anger and disappointment that such a tiny screw-up has caused, but we had no choice but to take our flight back to Paris, as we have no idea when Alannah's visa will be ready. Of course, we'll have to go back to the US one more time to do this.
In the meantime, my passport is adorned with a French work visa (with no expiration date!), which I was told needed to be accompanied by all sorts of legal paperwork, my work contract, etc. so that I could get back into the country. The passport control officer spent all of 4 nanoseconds looking at it before waving me through.
But it's not the physical visa that counts. What matters is that I am now official here.
And that I'm married to an illegal alien. Sweet!