Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Monday 11 January 2010

Scenes from the visa appointment

Scene 1: me, running out of a cab and down Toronto's Bloor Street in the somewhat high-heeled boots I bought in Antibes. They are NOT meant for running -- especially while light, slippery snowflakes are falling to the ground.

I abandoned the cab in the middle of a construction zone with four minutes to go before my appointment with the visa office, three blocks away. The drive through Toronto construction took way more time than expected. So like any passionate romantic in a New York love story, I got out of the cab and ran.

Rode the elevator up to the 22nd floor of the Bloor Street building completely out of breath, clutching my meticulously organized papers to my chest.

One minute late. On their website, the consulate says in big capital letters that they will NOT TOLERATE LATENESS.

Scene 2: empty visa office, with one security guard and two French women seated behind glass.

The first question I was asked was about why I wanted to go to France. Then I was asked to slip all of my papers into a strange, long two-sided drawer that opened on my side of the glass wall. I slid the papers in and pushed the drawer in so that it opened on the other side.

We spoke in French. I smiled. But the women didn't seem to think I was very funny. I couldn't tell if my French was offending them or if this visa application process really was a serious business.

As they read my cover letter to the consulate explaining that I wanted to go to France to learn more about the language and because I'd fallen in love with a French professor, I blushed.

Scene 3: me, sitting crouched outside the office, waiting for the women who work in the visa office to finish their lunch.

The women said I had to change my travel insurance plan and needed to go get a more recent letter from my bank, saying that I had some money and wasn't going to be a deadbeat.

I went to get the letter while they were on lunch and returned 20 minutes early. So, there I was crouched with my backpack, laptop and a new letter from my bank when the speaker on the door made a static sound and one of the women called me back in. Apparently, I'd been looking awkward in the hallway and they felt sorry for me.

"J'ai pensé que j'étais seule," I smiled, thinking they'd seen my eyes dart around in confusion when they told me that they knew I was outside the door.

"We see and hear everything," they laughed (but I still think they were serious).

Scene 4: me, on the phone with Blue Cross, trying to get them to fax my coverage to the consulate. Had to call four times and was on hold forever. Turns out, the women had written what I thought was a six and they thought was a four.

Funny thing is that when I was in Florida, the Professor's family gave me some lengthy instruction on how the French numbers and English numbers are written differently. I swear this one still looked like a 6.

Scene 5: me, walking out of the office with a VISAAAAA!!

Off to meet my agent to talk about the book...


  1. CONGRATULATIONS! Isn't it time for some Champagne?


  2. You're right. A party is in order. Talked to the Prof on Skype yesterday at my parents house. He asked why everything was so quiet. Maybe I'll plan a party for myself for Friday night. I can't believe I'm really going!

  3. So, how much stuff you're going to pack this time? Have you started thinking about that?