Underthecurrent


pending
January 26, 2017, 1:20 am
Filed under: runaway, voyageur

The agony and ecstasy of attempting to legally live in other places.

When starting travelling, it seems easy.  Arrive somewhere and stay.  Work, maybe under the table, maybe with some visa cobbled together.  Advice to navigate passed along, anecdotes about consequences shared.  It was almost all a dare, roulette, an experiment.  Failure meant packing a bag and trying not to be detained for overstaying, maybe a black mark in a passport.

*

The first document arrives – an address is wrong.  This wouldn’t be a big deal except we know someone for whom the wrong address led to months of delays and an attempt to cancel the application completely.  Eventually, a portal opens and a change can be registered online… which takes effect in fifteen days.  Fifteen days in the digital age, amazing.

The first round went unexpectedly quickly – a year was suddenly four months and everything was thrown forward.  The next step seemed accessible until the rules all changed.  Now, again, it’s hurry and wait.

*

Every document has a price tag and an inconvenience.  The police checks, health clearances, unabridged everything.  In three months, the documents change, in six many start to expire.  Luckily, the kind lady at the station did a few sets of finger prints.  And then? There are no instructions available what should be done with this painstakingly gathered, increasingly valuable package.  Submit in person, thousands of kilometers away, or via tracked mail and prayers?

Message boards warn about more than a year, about unanswered calls and questions.  Some hint about legal applications to force decisions.

What if it doesn’t work out? If it wasn’t a serious plan it wouldn’t be worth the trouble or cost.  But what if it doesn’t work out?

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since you’ve been gone
January 24, 2017, 12:32 am
Filed under: unrelated thoughts, voyageur, work work work work work

“You can stand anything for 10 seconds.  Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.”

The countdown came and went.  Holiday time was jet-lagged and rushed but still a break from the pinging messages and churning pointless to-do list.  The countdown (which has now ended) used to represent the time after which it would be okay to just quit; paid holidays cashed out, enough money saved to walk away.  When the countdown started, that is where things were focused, just making it that far.

Now there are all these small goal posts, like trail markers on a marathon.  Just. A. Little. Further.  As every one goes past, the load gets a bit lighter.

*

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get to hold your children,” she says.  She starts to cry a bit.  We are helping, half helping, pack the house they have been in for almost two decades.  She will pack the leftover pieces up for us, for when we come back.  Wine glasses and casserole dishes.

*

We buy them cigarettes, bread and washing powder.  They kiss us goodbye.  It’s complicated.  This place never stops being complicated, maybe that’s what’s so attractive about it.  This time, again, there are changes.  Those paved roads, hydro poles and preschools.  Maybe not enough, not fast enough, but something forward.

Our friends there talk about the same things our friends here struggle with.  Uncertainty about the future.  The price of property, being able to afford to have children.  How the older generation pays us poorly as they spend freely on themselves.

*

The world is a crazy place right now, women marching all over everywhere, questions about the future of free trade, political maelstrom.  More questions than answers, big questions shaking the foundations of the West.  The markets hold, Atlas shrugs.

We spend the weekend cleaning our apartment.  Taking long walks to see what is opening and what is closing.  Shutting down the news cycle, the talking heads, the rotating scandals and smokescreens.  The impulse to refresh in hope of answers instead of venturing out into the world to find them.