So.. there I was... sitting in Pret a Manger, nursing my cappuccinno and feeling a bit sorry for myself.. when suddenly the light bulb went on in my head. Seriously I think people could hear it ping.
My cousin and her family live somewhere in London. I sent out a Family Chat message on Facebook Messenger asking if anyone had her number. While I was waiting for a reply I got in touch with MrD and the kids to give em the update and let them know I was ok. MrD was great.. told me not to worry and book into a hotel and money was no object (he may live to regret saying that)
Ten minutes later my cousin phoned.. I told her what was going on and she told me to jump back on the tube.. and head to North Fields station where she would pick me up. I was so relieved! One hour later I was sitting in her living room, drinking a nice cup of tea. By this time I had my head straight and was focused on what needed to be done.
First things first I emailed the embassy telling them what had happened and requesting an interview the next day.
Then I phoned my bank in America, authorising the use of our joint account in the Uk just in case I needed it. I also had a credit card kept for emergencies so money was no problem
When her hubby came home, we had a spot of dinner. Although I had only had coffee all day I wasnt very hungry but I ate what I could to keep my strength up. We then took a 20 minute drive to Heathrow to see if I could get my luggage, but all the baggage places were closed and locked up.
By this time I had received an automated response from the Embassy. Its was full of very confusing information with links to lots and lots of pages. It also made it clear that I couldnt speak to anyone in person.
I was up early the following morning and as soon as the Embassy opened.... so began the start of many emails between us. My cousin sat beside me at the table as for hours we corresponded back and forth. We poured over scores of information and sent what I could. MrD had collected everything he could find as proof of my Green Card and was just waiting to see what I needed.
The long and the short of it was... I was stupid to leave the US without a way of getting back in.. I had to fill in various forms.. pay $575 for the transportation letter.. then wait for the NEXT AVAILABLE TUESDAY OR THURSDAY for an appointment! It could take weeks!! My heart sank! I would NEVER have left the US if I hadnt had permission,.. and I seriously didnt think that it would be a problem not to physically have my Green Card with me
But then something caught my eye. One of the forms I needed to travel and they wanted me to pay for... I had already filed.. and MrD had it!. It was the letter that had confirmed my Green Card had been extended and I could travel! My cousin had read that it was up to the airline's discretion if I could board the plane with it... so she said with nothing to lose we should take a chance..
We got MrD to fax the letter and we headed for the tube for Heathrow. It was just after 1o'clock and the next flight was at 4.15. We arrived at the Air NZ desk. It was a different woman form the day before. We explained the situation..showed the document.. and kept our fingers crossed. Immigration was called... and it was the same woman as before.. darn it. My cousin was amazing she knew all the right things to say.. and may have skimmed over the fact that we hadnt actually spoken to anyone at the Embassy.. only had the info through emails. I held my breath as the woman examined the document.. made a phone call and said..."ok you can go!' I could have kissed her. it was now three o'clock.. check in closed in 30 minutes.
While my cousin went to retrieve my hand luggage I went to the ticket desk to try and get on the flight. Of course the woman on the desk phone was put on hold.. and time was ticking away. Eventually she said they could get me on....I just had to pay $615. At that moment I was actually on the mobile to MrD telling him I could come home.. and I could hear him shouting "Pay it! Pay it!"
So with that... I had to get back to the check in desk for my boarding pass.. had time for one last hug and selfie with my cousin ( its her fault all this happened as she had messaged me the day before saying she was sorry she missed me and we would catch up next time:!!)..Had to wait in line at security to have my hand luggage searched.. and had to get to my gate on the other side of the airport. I had never moved so fast in my life! My little legs were moving so fast there was smoke coming from my heels. I got to my plane in the nick of time and I sat down in my seat.. hot, sweaty, and very relieved. I even had a row of seats to myself.!!
Eleven hours later.. I arrived safely on US soil... and was promptly marched into immigration again. I was questioned... I was scolded for not having my Green Card.. I was told in no uncertain terms that next time I left the US without my Green Card.. I would be facing a $575 fine
I told her not to worry... that I would NEVER be leaving the US again.
My luggage on the other hand was having a whale of a time... and had decided to stay in London!
I need a vacation to recover..... but for now...just in California x
Love and Hugs