Fly in the Ointment

I was supposed to be in France already, but I’m not. This is the tale of what happened.

Last Saturday at about this time of the evening I was driving my dog back from the island. I felt like I was on the downhill side of a nasty Las Vegas bender. Worse, it was all emotional. I had no clue how I was going to deal with the fallout from the veterinarian visit I’d just been through and worse I had no idea how I was going to break the news to my son and wife later that night.

Checkpoint: now is the time in the story when we have to hit the reverse button and back up in time. All my paperwork for this move has been delayed. It began last April when we went to renew our passports. Tess and Aral got their passports back reasonably quickly considering the delays that the State Department reported. I did not. Turns out the State Department didn’t like my signature but didn’t tell me about it until almost a month after my family had theirs in their hands.

This delay meant that they applied for visas sooner than I did. Tess ended up going to Florida to apply for hers at the same time my passport was returned. Then, because no one wears masks any longer, she came back with COVID. I caught it and tested positive the day before I was supposed to fly to DC to apply for my visa. So that all got scrubbed.

I got a replacement appointment a month and change later; Tess and Aral had already flown to France. I made it through this process more or less unscathed then returned to Washington to wait for my visa and plan my departure.

Originally, the plan was to fly out of SeaTac on the 28th of September when Air Traffic Control workers across France threatened to go on strike from the 28th through the 30th. I started making phone calls and needed to reschedule everything to cope. This means plane tickets, train tickets, rental car tickets, and my dog’s health check all had to be moved around quickly to compensate.

And Lyra’s health certificate is where this story makes its grande loop, reconnecting to the beginning of the tape. Turns out that the kid who answered my phone calls at the vet’s didn’t have a clue what was and wasn’t permissible when it comes to flying an animal into France. Nor did this person ask anyone who might know.

The dog and I found ourselves confronted by these cold, hard facts when — hours before our scheduled flight time — the vet made all plain as day. The good news is that the vet has done, so far as I can tell, everything in his power to correct the problem. However, there’s just not a whole lot that he can do at this point other than help me wait it out.

I finished the drive back to my folk’s house. I’ve been staying with them and living out of a couple of bags now for more than a month. I spent the next couple of days spreading the bad news to people who needed to know and then making changes to plans. We’re now on a countdown to fly to Paris in the last week of October.

I mean yeah, there has been a lot to learn about moving overseas. This time almost nothing has gone smoothly for me and problems have cropped up that are well outside my control. I think “bumpy” would be an apt description of my experience thus far. The good news is that, despite that drive where it felt like my heart and guts swapped seats, I’m learning to remain sanguine. Also, I’m still talking, so that shoe remains to be dropped.

Sooner than later I will be in the EU and I’m really looking forward to that day.

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