I got in

It feels like I smuggled myself in. All the rigmarole, the calls, emails, printed out testaments to our relationship, twisting of fingers, sleepless nights, anxiety about every various thing that once could anxietize over, the pre-emptive COVID test, the clerk at Aer Lingus riffled through my stack of proof-of-relationship without looking at it and sent me on to the Aer Lingus lounge. It was mostly empty but there was this guy who managed to slam dunk 4 tumblers of scotch in 5 minutes. We landed in Dublin while it was still dark (and raining) I couldn’t see a bit of The Ol’ Sod and it didn’t feel in the least bit Irish, nothing was open at 4:30 in the morning.

And then it was off to Berlin. No customs since I’d been through customs in Ireland, and I was out the door. No COVID test, no dramatic presentation of proof-of-relationship, no explaining that yes, I know there is a 30+ difference in our relationship. Can you imagine that in the US?

And then there was the tearful reunion with the Royal Indian Mounted Police. It’s been eight months, 20 days and 7 hours.

Across the sea

Residents of the USA cannot come into the EU. But Germany allows spouses and long time partners to enter. We had to have copies of emails, photographs of us together in Germany (there are none but Norway, France and Austria would have to suffice). We need proof of things we had done together, like hotel or train ticket receipts. I needed a copy of his passport, his visa and residency permits. He wrote a letter of invitation in English and German and he filled out a form bearing witness to our relationship. I had a 9 by 12 envelope with a packet of information 3 inches thick. And still I was not assured that I would be admitted.

I had booked a flight on Aer Lingus that stopped in Dublin (the upside of this is going through customs in Dublin rather than the hell hole that is O’Hare) The whole trip got off to a bad start when I received an email in August explaining that I could change my flight or get a voucher for future travel. It didn’t say I exactly HAD to but it seemed to suggest that I should. Calling Aer Lingus was fruitless . . . those damn Irish. Eventually I emailed, it was long enough in advance that I felt I’d get a response. And I did. Yes the flight was still on. However the day before when I went to check in, their website said that the flight was cancelled. So, so, so fun. Thirty four unanswered phone calls later, some guy did pick up. He said that the problem was that the flight was delayed and I would miss my connecting flight to Berlin. He then spent 20 minutes trying to find a different connection. And a further problem was that if I missed it and could not find another route to Berlin, I’d be stuck in Dublin for 2 nights and one full day because there were no flights the next day.

Well, that suits me just fine, a free day in Ireland. I could see myself wandering aimlessly through fields of shamrocks with me clay pipe in one hand and a Guinness in the other singing Too-ra-loo-ra-lai or shopping on Baggotty street for a tam-o-shanter and stopping in a pub for a quick one, and praties an’ bangers, or some goddam Irish crap. That was all well and good until he told me that Dublin was quarantined and I couldn’t go there. Goddam Donald Trump.

Eventually he told me to take my chances and I was fine with that. Just get me outta here. I got to O’Hare in plenty of time . . . OK, 4 hours early, as I am wont to do. There was no one. So weird. No lines. waltzed through security and then sashayed into the business class lounge. No one. Onto the airplane, no one.

To be continued.