ONE LAST POST
This will be the last post I will write for this blog. As of June 1, 2013 I will be leaving Scotland and landing back in the USA. Because of circumstances I doubt I will be back, certainly not to live, maybe not to visit. Since my Scottish Adventure is coming to an end I will have to write some new sort of blog in the US but I wanted to draw a line under and bring my story here to a close.
For those of you who don't know, I was shocked, appalled and horrified (and any other similar adjective you can think of) to receive a letter, April 22nd that said I no longer had leave to stay in the country. My visa was expired and I was deemed an "overstayer"(aka illegal alien!). I honestly, hand on heart, don't know how that happened. If you had asked me I would have told you that I was good until 2014. I'm not stupid or careless, usually--although by this it would be hard to tell--so I can't imagine how I let this get past me. In fact, in April, while I was filling out my US income tax, I was thinking, in the back of my head, that I should make sure my paperwork was in order because it would be 2014 before you know it and I would have to go through the whole process again.
If you've read my blogs for 2010 you'll see what a difficult time we had getting the visa I had. Not that there was anything wrong with me per se (no, I do not have a hidden criminal background nor am I an international woman of mystery!), it's just become such a cumbersome process which starts off making you feel like a criminal and you having to prove you're not. As with anything dealing with government red tape, you have to jump through their hoops in just a certain way and heaven help you if you leave out a step! I think in the end we had to make 3 or 4 applications before my visa was approved.
So after all that, you say, how could you have not known when it expired? I DON'T KNOW! I put it in my wallet and didn't think anything about it and went on with my life. I was never asked to show it and never, really took it out of its little slot in all the time I had it. Like I said, something in the back of my mind said not to worry about it until 2014 so I didn't. That is until the letter from the Border Agency arrived. One moment it was a typical day and I came downstairs to have my second cup of coffee and the next moment I was reading a letter that said I was breaking the law and had to leave the country.
Now let me take one minute and give you a piece of advice from experience. If you are unhappy with your life, or even just feeling like you want a change, if you feel ungrateful for what you have now and wish things were different (and then you could be happy...) just imagine for a moment with me that in the snap of a finger things did change. Because we're all faced with moments like that where our life changes radically in the blink of an eye. One moment we go along as usual and the next minute something happens--even if it's something good--and nothing is ever the same again. I didn't realize how much I wanted to stay until I was faced with the fact that I couldn't. So don't let that happen to you. If you want to be happier or more content with your life then imagine it all being taken away. I think you might find that things aren't so bad after all.
I have always said that I wanted to go back to the US to live, especially with my family being there and wanting to be a part of future events in the life of my son and to enjoy the years my mother still has to be with us but it's always been hard to get Robert to commit to any time frame. I know it's hard for him to leave his home too and he is especially hard to get out of his comfort zone. This is certainly not how we planned it or hoped it would be but this might be the only way to get him to move. We were hoping and planning to have more time to prepare: to sell the house, to have a job or place to live over in the US and just a host of ducks to get in a row! Now we have no time to prepare and organize. I just have to get on a jet and leave. Robert is flying to Virginia with me as a holiday and then he will have to come back here and take care of the hard moving stuff and we will start the fun of paperwork and red tape for him on the other side!
There are a thousand things to think about, a thousand things to do and a thousand reasons to be stressed, anxious and panic. I have been through them all. BUT, and here's another lesson I want to try to share that I've learned:: God is going to take care of it all. No, actually, God will HAVE to take care of it all because I sure can't. I have no control over so many things in this process and there's so many things that I can't do myself. I am forced to trust in God, trust in friends and family and rely on my faith to get me through. Right now I'm like the Israelites with the Egyptian army at my back and the Red Sea in front of me and I know He doesn't love and care for me any less than he did the Israelites. Yes, I have has my moments of panic and anxiety this last month but there really is joy in helplessness. I know God will do a GOOD thing for us, He has a GOOD plan for our lives and I am actually interested to see what it is. I know that a year from now my life will be so totally different.
Because God has shown me I can trust Him and I've been thrown into this situation where I have no other choice but to trust, I already feel my attitude, expectations and insights changing. It feels so good not to have to worry and stress over all this and to put it in more capable hands that mine. Truly, if it were up to me to accomplish all this on my own and if the burden for solving all these problems was on my shoulders, I think I'd go crazy. I'd surely make a mess of it. I'm so glad, so, so glad that I have rediscovered the faith that I thought I had lost or had gone dormant. I know I'm not alone in any of this and that I can do this with His strength and help and He will give me favor and walk with me always. How do you ever live without that and why have I struggled so many times in the past to take back control and try to impose my "plans" and expectations?
So, what can I say about my 5 1/2 years of living in Scotland? That's a hard thing to sum up but I'll try to do it briefly. First of all, there are good and kind and wonderful people who live everywhere. I think that's been the most surprising thing for me to think back on. I've met some delightful, friendly, warm people here and that's not usually what you think of when you think about your stereotypical dour Scot. The weather, however, is as bad as they say it is and I certainly will not miss that! People are pretty much the same everywhere with a lot of the same needs, dreams and failings.
Scotland is a land of terrific people and great natural beauty and romantic castles and landscapes but living in the UK isn't as delightful as it seems on Downton Abbey or PBS Masterpiece Theatre or Jane Austen. There are good things and bad things about living here versus visiting here as a tourist. I'm pleased I had the opportunity to find out what life is really like here and how "real" people live. I've often felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole and there are some things I will never understand no matter how hard I try. For example: Why is a man in a dress so hilarious (and what is pantomime all about)? Why do you eat corn on pizza or put it in tuna salad and not like it as a side vegetable? Why do you have to have brussels sprouts at Christmas? and What is it about toast that makes it a separate food group???
All in all, despite my many complaints and grumblings, it's been a good 5 1/2 years. There have been ups and downs that I've talked about in this blog but that's life isn't it? I will miss many, many things about life here. I don't know what the future adventure is going to look like but again, that's what life is all about too. All I know for sure is that I won't be going through it alone and I'm going back to many people who love me and that I love so it can't be bad, can it?
Thank you for reading this blog and sharing in my Scottish Adventure. I don't know what form my next blog will take but I will keep writing. Many prayers and love to everyone and God bless you. Goodbye.
TO BE CONTINUED...