Now that all the capitals have died down, let me tell you how it went on Thursday - the medical and interview for the fiancé visa.
I woke up at ludicrous a.m. after a fitful night's sleep, and showered in the communal wobbly plastic cubicle. The plug failed to work, so that after three minutes I was forced to stop showering for fear of a soapy overspill cascading down the stairs of the hotel.
Dressed and feeling semi-sharp after a musty-tasting cup of antique freeze-dried coffee I walked to the surgery for a quarter past seven, as recommended on VJ.com. I was the only one there for the 8 o'clock appointment thus far. Apparently the queue is meant to start forming at that time...and it did - I was the queue. A triumph of logic.
After a while a kindly old gentleman carrying a leather-covered wastepaper basket in a box, and dressed in a light brown tweed suit with a yellow tie came out of the building.
"It's quite a wait you know. There's a McDonald's down there, for what it's worth, if you want to go and get a coffee."
Having been told-sorry-suggested to- in an upper-class cut-glass accent, I went and bought my suitably Plebian mass-produced coffee, but was so nervous that I couldn't drink it. I wandered back up to the surgery ten minutes later to find about fifteen people milling around, subtly, slowly and without wanting to admit it, jockeying for position near the door. It's a quintessentially British thing. Everyone wants to be first, but no one wants to admit it and while everyone subtly and grimly manoeuvres for position, no one wants to be so crass as to force anyone to say, "Excuse me, I was there." I loitered near the back.
There was no reason to queue whatsoever. All proceedings were done alphabetically once we were inside. After ten minutes of twiddling my thumbs in a drawing room which had been converted to a waiting room, two electronic tones which sounded like the dying notes of a 1980s kid's toy broke the silence and I was invited through...to another waiting room.
This established the pattern for the day.
A large map of the United States covered one wall of the second waiting room - dated at 1960 - JFK was just 'New York International Airport' and the mass of names and rivers and cities that I was ignorant of kept my brain ticking over until the blood test which was administered by a woman who seemed more nervous than me...then I was called through to stand in a small cubicle akin to the lower class of changing room in a shop - two small swing doors just about covering my midriff, and asked to remove my shirt. Having dutifully stripped off to the waist I was zapped with X-rays ("Er, I have a metallic belt buckle." "Yes, it's very nice.") and then prodded in the belly for a bit.
I was forced to explain the boiling-oil-splash-scars to a serious-faced female doctor. I lied and told her it had happened at a barbecue, rather than the truth, which is that I shouldn't really be trusted with cooking equipment.
After being summarily given a tetanus and diptheria booster vaccination in a gloriously decorated office I was turfed out and told to head straight to the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square.
It was a bright and breezy day, and it was still only 10 o'clock, and as I walked past Marble Arch and down the first stretch of Oxford Street I woke Krissa to tell her how it had gone at the doctor's. She was sleepy, but happy that all had gone well.
At the embassy I was greeted with barricade upon barricade of concrete and a maze of metal fencing guiding (or misleading) people to an entrance. As I'd been told, I walked past the two long queues and straight to the baggage x-rays and security guards, to more than a few slitty-eyed jealous glances from the waiting masses. As a security measure, my bag was more thoroughly X-rayed than I had been half an hour before. After navigating the gauntlet-like challenge which was the maze of steel fencing around the outside of the embassy, I found myself in a huge waiting room which reminded me of an airport lounge. I was handed a ticket for my appointment, just like they do at the delicatessen in supermarkets.
Over the next three hours I read the book I had brought to pass the time, interrupted only by handing over the paperwork I needed for the interview.
Finally, my name was called. The guy behind the window looked like a cross between Mr. Cunningham from Happy Days and...no...that's it. That's who he reminded me of.
"So," he said, grinning and in a real New York twang, "how the hell does a guy like you meet a girl from Queens?"
I grinned back, all of a sudden at my ease. The interview lasted all of five minutes.
Out in the square people were sitting around on the grass, eating their lunches and enjoying the sunshine. My arm ached slightly from the jab, I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, the tension, and the furious speed and concentration with which I had devoured the book I had read.
I called Krissa direct to tell her the news as she got ready for work; I had lost my calling card in the doctor's second waiting office, having used it to try and figure out how far it is from New York to Maine...blah blah ra ra ra - details.
It was all over. The visa was approved. It's nearly six months since I met her - met this beautiful, elegant, bright shining tornado of a woman as I reached the door of a welcoming apartment with a cold flush to my cheeks and she stumbled getting up out of her chair to greet me. Six months, and now I can go to be with her. To marry her.
As the time ticks down to the 7th of October - the day my flight is booked for, I have an enormous mixture of feelings. I cannot wait to leave...but I will miss it here. I cannot wait to leave...but I know this time will fly by. I cannot wait to leave...but I will miss my friends and my family.
I cannot wait to leave.