Archives for posts with tag: passport

Well, we finally got B’s passport. We are back in Brooklyn! And I have already, within the space of 24 hours, done 3 loads of laundry and accidentally picked up a piece of stray poop, thinking it was a pebble.

Welcome home.

[Confession: I’ve actually been home for over a week. But I’m drastically off blogging schedule as the day after I got home, we packed up for a trip to Boston/New Hampshire and Vermont for school vacation week. In two days, I am leaving for Mexico City. There has been an unnatural amount of travel in my life over the past month, and I will divulge more about Mexico in my next post!]

Entry into the US was completely stress-free. When I produced B’s birth certificate at customs, to assure them I am INDEED her mother, the customs agent said, “No need. We believe you.”

And once again, on cue, I burst into tears. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to return to US soil.

The flight wasn’t too bad either. If you ignore the fact that we were delayed for two hours, sitting on the runway while I sang every song to B in my Baby Einstein repertoire. And the fact that the busty blonde sitting on my right clearly had no children, judging by her response to B’s flirty overtures.

But if there’s something I’ve learned in all this, England has changed.

THe England of my youth – the country I grew up in – is no more. I’ve lived in the US for so long, that methinks I’ve been guilty of looking at England the way many foreigners do, as a land full of jolly olde jokesters who talk funny, shun dentistry and serve scones and marmite for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the England of my youth, the streets were dappled with pubs serving warm beer and Ploughman’s Lunches (french bread, cheddar cheese and Branston Pickle.) In the England of today, neighborhoods are overrun with boutique bars offering chocolate mojitos and low fat daquiris.

In the England of my youth, a visit to the American Embassy was a relaxing jaunt into Grosvenor Square, passing by the occasional bobby wielding a truncheon.

Today’s American Embassy is guarded by giant policemen wielding AK 47s. The Embassy is in fact moving locations soon, to a building that is apparently surrounded by a moat. I kid you not.

In the England of my youth, the most exciting celebrity spottings were local pop stars. I remember visiting the video store at the age of 16 and spotting Adam Ant, in full stripes. To say that I got my knickers in a twist is an understatement. In today’s England, you’re more likely to run into Gwynnie at the gym or while buying a cut of humanely-treated prime rib at the sustainable butcher shop.

And while today’s England may be healthier, wealthier and probably more rife with excitement and international intrigue, I like a little grit mixed in with my high gloss paint. Gives it texture.

But my biggest lesson learned…albeit begrudgingly… is that charm alone may no longer make up for my sins of omission. There is no leeway when it comes to passports and immigration and proving you’re the mother to your beloved child. No earnest smiles and batting of eyelids will smoothe over the cracks of bureacratic snafus. Only paperwork will do. Yawn.

And now for something completely different:

Did you see the Oscars last night? Yes, the show was embarrassingly uncomfortable and quite boring, apart from Jeff Bridges, hubby’s and mine joint crush. People say hubby reminds them of a younger Jeff.

But the true highlight was Nicole Kidman’s dress.

What happened, darlin'?

I know she’s been living the blissed out country lifel, but that’s no excuse for this Nashville show-girl get-up. Really, Nicole.

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You may have recently read about my penchant for tears and my recent performance at the central passport office in downtown New York.

Here, my darlings, is part two. The epilogue, if you will.

I finally arrive at Heathrow airport with little B in pretty good shape. Sure, my armpits could part an entire sea of Egyptian protesters (“What is that smell? Can’t sit here idly and overthrow Mubarak. Gotta go home and get some air freshener…”) and my breath could bring an army to its knees, but my little angel managed to sleep for 2 hours and happily munched Cheerios for the rest of the flight.

I even managed to catch half a movie – “Conviction” – starring the wide toothed Hilary Swank and my underdog crush Sam Rockwell who I adore. It actually wasn’t half bad, save the horrendous Boston accents.

Anyway, post-flight, there we are, merrily queuing up to go through customs. It’s 9pm, the airport is relatively empty, and I’ve just given myself a giant pat on the back for surviving a transatlantic with my 10 month old.

Now, one might think that just because my daughter and I both have valid passports, all would be smooth sailing. After all, I am not on any wanted lists. Little BumbleB isn’t a front for a cocaine smuggling operation.

But in this age of wiretapping and black sites, I should have known better.

You see, both BumbleB and I are eligible for two passports – US and UK. I was born in the UK, but have American parents, and though B was born in the US she can also carry a UK passport because of me.  Because I have basically been too lazy/crazed to renew my UK passport, I was traveling on my US passport. And because I was so proud of myself for getting B her UK passport, I’d put off getting her US one.

You can see where this is leading. I’m on my US passport and she’s on her UK one. Added to this equation is the fact that we have different last names on our passports, as I still retain my maiden name.

So there we are, finally in front of the nice customs agent, about to get our passports stamped, me very nicely explaining why we’re on passports from different countries.

And then comes the question.

“Um, madam, this is a bit unusual, really. Can you actually prove you’re her mother?”

Well, I can definitely show you  my flabby vajajay if that helps at all. Just to prove I’ve actually been through childbirth, I think.

But then I turn red and start sweating, an old and frustrating response I have when I feel uncomfortable. I’m upset and feel like a bit of an idiot. And furiously try to turn back to my normal hue of sun-starved pale.

“I am her mother. I promise!” I say with a feeble smile.

“I’m sure you are madam, but with human trafficking being so high profile, you can understand our concern.”

“Of course,” I reply. The idea of my beautiful little baby currently strapped to my chest, being even remotely connected to some form of human chattel, is deeply upsetting.

“Do you have anything with both your names on it?”

I dig through  my wallet. Yes! I have a health insurance card that does the trick. I hand it over.

“Right,” he says. “I’ll just go speak with my manager. Please take a seat.”

OK. Deep breath. I sit in front of the customs line.

I wait. And wait. Get more anxious. B is getting antsy. I’m starting to feel flustered now. Where is this man? Oh God…I’m sitting here with no passport in between two countries. Images from Midnight Express dance in my jetlagged brain.

He finally comes back. 20 minutes later. Asks me to approach.

First thing out of his mouth: “Madam, it can often take hours, sometimes days for a matter like this to be resolved.”

Great. Does that mean I’m going to be locked up while you decide if I’m a closet Scientologist?

I start to cry. This time, the tears really are real. I’m freaked, people. I have visions of cradling my little BumbleB in a ratty  jail cell, being jeered at and clawed at by the other inmates, forced to feed B a diet of gruel and cozying up to hard-edged criminals to procure Cheerios on the black market. I wonder if they’ll give me the chance to make a phone call, like they do on TV. I suppose I’ll call my dad first. Let him know why he’ll never see me again.

“We’ll let you off this time,” he offers, cautioning “You can understand why we needed to do this, don’t you madam?”

“Yes. Of course,” I nod through real, hot tears that are streaming down my cheeks. I’m torn between feeling appreciative of the fact that he’s trying to protect my child, ashamed of my own negligence, and angry that I’ve been put through this.

And if you call me madam one more time, I think to myself, I’m going to take my imaginary pistol from inside my bra cup (which belongs to a formerly lactating MOTHER of this CHILD, thank you very much,) and blow your bleeping balls off.

I carry B to collect our luggage, tears slowly abating, gathering myself to greet my parents as I exit through the door that says “Nothing to Declare.”