A little over a week ago, I submitted all the paperwork for my visa.
That’s right! My nights of staying up, poring over the checklist and getting tangled up in bureaucratic red tape is over. I’m still knocking on wood, because I know (heaven forbid) there’s still a chance I may be denied the visa or it could get lost in the mail or eaten by a crocodile or run away to seek its fortune in Las Vegas. But let’s not think about any of that right now.
The appointment itself was a lot easier than I thought. However, I’d give yourself plenty of time to get there especially if you’re unfamiliar with Los Angeles. I arrived with twenty minutes to spare, but it still took me nearly all of that time to navigate the building. The biggest problem I had was (don’t judge me) finding the door. First, I walked right past the building because there are no signs or evidence that the consulate is located inside. Then, I walked around the whole place twice because I didn’t know which door led to the consulate. Finally, in desperation, I asked the guy working the little yellow arm that lifts up to let cars out of the parking garage. He said I was in the right place and so I entered through the garage.
Keep in mind that I was running on zero sleep and I’d just walked two miles to get to the consulate because I was afraid I might get on the wrong bus if I tried to use public transportation. You’d probably have better luck than me.
Anyways, I walked in and was directed upstairs by a grumpy man who simply gestured to a small sign on the front desk when I asked where to go for my visa. A boy who was also looking for the consulate wandered around the hallway with me for a while until we found the right room. He was just as lost as I was, which made me feel a little better.
The waiting room was packed, and since I couldn’t find a sign in sheet or anything of that nature and my appointment was scheduled in 5 minutes, I went up to one of the windows and asked the man sitting behind the glass what to do. He wasn’t much older than I was, and after squinting at his computer for a moment, told me to take a seat.
The windows were like the ones they have at movie theater ticket booths and some banks: a sheet of glass with a metal grate where your mouth is and a slot in the bottom.
I’m not really sure why the people working there needed glass in between them and the applicants, but maybe it had something to do with money? Even though I believe all money paid to the consulate is in the form of money orders, which would be useless to someone who wanted to rob the place.
But back to the appointment. I was nervous and sweaty and nearly dropped my thick stack of papers all over the floor. The boy behind the glass just told me to give him everything at once if it was in order. He shuffled through them, plucked out all the copies except for my passport and license, and slid those back to me. (I was a little bit salty about that part; I’d agonized over all these stupid copies when the whole time they weren’t even going to use them?!) The only question he asked was which date I’d be arriving in Spain and when I’d be leaving. After scribbling that down on my application, he took my money order and said I was good to go.
“Thank you, it takes about four weeks.”
In a sleep-deprived daze, I gathered up my sea of photocopies and headed for the door. The whole exchange took about two minutes. I felt empty as I stepped back into the elevator. While the floors ticked by on the screen above my head, I wondered distantly if everything had gone as well as it could have. There wasn’t a clear answer to that particular question.
Once I stepped outside and returned to the sunny streets of Los Angeles, I was able to let out a breath I’d been holding for who knows how long. I was free! Free and in one of my favorite cities in the world!
You really can’t have a bad day when you’re in LA.
Hasta la vista,
Side Note: So over a year ago I went to Venice Beach and I got the greatest shirt that I’ve ever owned. It was a long-sleeved pink t shirt that had “Venice Beach” across the shoulders in big white letters, and it was amazing because you could wear it in the sun and not be hot, you could wear it when it was cold and stay warm, and you could wear it inside and just be super comfy. I loved this shirt. It looked good with leggings or jeans or shorts, it was over-sized but it still made you look skinny, it was pure magic.
But then one fateful day, someone stole it out of the dryer in the community laundry room while I was working for Disney. (Which only serves to reinforce my belief that everything goes lost or missing in Florida; it’s the state equivalent of that one backpack or purse or center console that eats all of your valuables.)
While in LA, I made the trek back to Venice Beach, and by “trek” I mean that I got off the bus at Santa Monica and walked all the way over to the boardwalk which was not easy when you’re so tired that you could curl up on the hot sand and be asleep in five seconds. And, I’d also walked two miles earlier in the day to the consulate.
But it was worth it because my efforts paid off. I know probably no one cares but I found the same exact shirt again and I bought it and now I am content with all of my earthly possessions. I only want peace and love for my fellow man at this point because I have found my own source of peace in the form of a pink sweatshirt.