Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back in the U. S. of A.

Well, it's been over a week now, I guess it's time to finally write about it.  I'm back in Seattle.  Not entirely by choice, and it certainly wasn't my plan, though there are also certainly good aspects to this.

Hmm, is it story time?  I was imagining writing out a long account of the story, and sharing it here.  Part of me wonders how much of the story really ought to be told in public, though, so I'm feeling shy about it.  Here's the short version, anyway, just so anyone following (do I have followers?  I seem to get some page views... not sure where from, though) has some idea, at least.

So, I was in Berlin.  Feeling pretty happy there, though I was starting to get the travel bug again, off and on.  Anyway, my application for an Artist Visa was denied.  This was early March. I was told by the person I brought with me to the Ausländerbehörde (their immigration office) to help me translate, that I could submit some letters of support, and maybe it would get re-considered.  The actual paperwork, though, only gave me an option for a flat-out appeal, in the courts.  Well, the former seemed accessible, and I tried it... and was instructed that no, it had to go to the court.  I wasn't feeling particularly prepared to engage at that level, so, I opted to follow the instructions and leave by April 2nd.

So, I booked a flight to London, for March 31st.  And I did my Abmeldung (de-registration of residence), and I took the papers to the passport control (where there was some misunderstanding, but that's for the detailed version, if/when I ever give it -  I think it was basically OK... I hope it was basically OK), and all that, and got on a plane to the UK.

On that plane, they gave me an immigration form, and then at Heathrow, I waited in the line, and then handed it over to the border control officer there.

Well, apparently saying that my stay would be "3-6 months" on the little form was a bit... question-inducing, because she started asking me a bunch of questions.  And ultimately, detained me (and my passport, separately).

And there's a whole long story there, that I was thinking of sharing.  Maybe I will sometime.  Suffice it for the moment to say that it involved lots of waiting in a waiting room in the airport, lots of searches, of me (luckily, nothing too invasive, unless you count the fingerprinting as invasive) and my stuff (much more invasive, especially the part where they seemed to be reading through, and eventually took for a while, my private notebook), some paddy-wagon-like van rides, to and from a place called Colnbrook, where I had a bed (luckily, in a room to myself) for a few hours (only about 5, only some of which were spent sleeping), and then was put on a flight back to somewhere I'd be guaranteed entry... the U.S.  Specifically, Seattle.

I was finally given my passport back only after I was on the ground at SeaTac airport.  Luckily, I breezed right through the US border checkpoint in SeaTac.  And now, here I am.  Wondering what's next.

Part of me wants to re-group in Seattle.  Part of me wants to dump off a bunch of stuff, go lighter-weight on my travels, and just up and wander around the states for a while... maybe try to hit all 50 or something...  hmm, a week in each state, for a year's activity?  Just thought of that as I was typing... could be interesting.

Part of me wants to fly off to Laos or the Dominican Republic or somewhere inexpensive.

Part of me wants to...  well, I'm going to leave that part out of the public record.  I know for a fact (really, I have paperwork to prove it) that some things I say on the Internet can get seen later by decision-makers in various places (insurance companies, governments, what have you), and... somehow, that's part of what's making me shy to write freely.  Which sucks.  And maybe someday I'll say fuck it, and just write my experience.  But...

For now, I'll just let people know that I'm state-side again... with mixed feelings about it... and looking for places to stay, in Seattle or elsewhere... rent-free would be lovely, though not necessarily required.  If you've got a place I could crash - for a day or a year, or anywhere in between, get in touch and let me know.  Meanwhile, I'll be finding things, somewhere.  And posting photos on my flickr stream now and again.  From somewhere.  Flickr even makes a map of my recent photos, if you want more updates than are likely to happen here.