|Upholstery on the S-Bahn|
Finally the building opens and some people shove past me, getting through the door first. I don't care. I have promised myself that I will not stress or rush today. I have been under a lot of stress lately. It has been manifesting in my body in different forms, knots in my stomach, a clenching of the jaw and stiffening of the neck. I take deep breaths, try to let go of the anxiety of alienness, of not understanding the language around me, of trying to grasp a culture that is not my own. On the second floor I show my passport, take a number and Robert and I sit in hard plastic chairs in room 212, waiting. I know I will not get my Visa today because I don't have the insurance, but I'm not sure how to get it and they will at least tell me what I have to do. In line, I met an American ukelele player who has lived in Berlin for the past few years. She is renewing her Visa today. She has given me the name of an insurance agent who will sell me private insurance without a german tax ID number. I can pay through my American bank account with USD. I'll buy this insurance later from a British man named John Gunn, who is based in Hamburg. As far as I know, he is the only person selling the private German health insurance that the Auslanderbehörde accepts. According to immigration law, I have to buy three month's worth of insurance at a time. It is extremely expensive, this stuff, but I am in a race against the clock and there is nothing else available to me.
After about 45 minutes, my number is called. Robert and I go into a little room and speak with a joyless woman behind a window. She tells me that I have everything except the insurance and she can either give me an extension on my tourist visa for 3 months until my appointment, or I can come back on Monday or Tuesday with the insurance. I opt for Monday or Tuesday.
Robert and get on the train back to my place in Lichtenberg, where I currently have a small, curtained corner of the living room to claim as my own space. I sit on the fluffy red comforter on my twin mattress and Robert lays his head in my lap whil I read him a short story by James Herriot.
I feel positively drained. I know everything will work out. I am a strong and persistent person, and going back to the States in a permanent way is not a viable option for me. The parts of the US I might like to live in are not set up for someone who doesn't drive, and I've no interest in living in New York.
Tomorrow the Visa saga continues. I'll take my letter from John Gunn saying I am insured to the Public Insurance Agency, who will then sign my official form that says they will insure me after me 3 months of private insurance is up and on Tuesday I will go to the Auslanderbehörde just before 7 am when the doors open and maybe, just maybe, they will give me my Self-Employment Visa then and there and I can start looking for some work.
It will all be okay.
|Boddinstrasse Pinwheel, Neukölln|
|TV Tower at Night|