Monday

Patience my dear

Music has a way of uplifting the spirit. I was up early as we were getting ready to to to the immigration office for some paper work. I was sitting down by the living room facing the glass window. I can see the sunlight beaming through the blinds. The radio was on, as I sat quietly on the couch sipping my coffee, I felt my spirit soar as I relaxed and listened to the music. The music was flowing in the air, it was loud, minimal loud.  It got to my system masaging the  tired muscles from waking on an unholy hour. It really felt good. J was of course upstairs getting ready. I just kept still and listened to the tranquility surrounding me. It is not an everyday incident. I let that moment pleasure me. I let myself drift away.
 
J's voice  startled me. I didn't notice he already got downstairs and started putting his socks on while sitting on the couch.
 
I was relaxed by the time we got to the car and drove  more than an hour to the INS office.  As we pulled to the parking lot an Asian- looking guy greeted us and told J told straighten his car some more so as not to piss off the person next to us when they leave. So, we did just that. When we came out of the car, he immediately asked if I were a Filipina. I said; "why, yes!" then he told me he's Korean, so I greeted him "Anyung Haseyo" with a slight bow. He greeted me back. He looked at J  smiling as he was moving his hands over his face trying to convey that J has a good-looking face. Then he goes on to say " Maybe I can have his signature" jokingly.......which  I understood that he meant autograph. I smiled to him and said "Thank you". I was laughing as we left the parking lot heading to the huge INS building oblivious to the throng of people gathered at the entrance and lining up for the day.
 
We went through the metal detectors as we are already scatching our heads, because before our eyes is a long line of people waiting to be attended. J was like "Do we have to get in line here?" addressing it to the security guard. He said "I'm afraid you have to." We got into the line, not knowing that we just entered the gate to hell.  We weren't the last people to join the crowd. More people came until the 11 o'clock bell ticked. They decided to send the late comers home. They were already on the line when one of the security guard asked the "captain" who was the last person. When the captain indicated it was the lady in pink, all the rest were told to come back the next day as they attend only to a certain amount of people per day. Of course they reluctantly moved with some roaring and then they were out of the door. We were so glad we came  30 minutes earlier, otherwise, we would havealso been sent away. One tall Japanese looking lady holding a fedex envelope insisted on talking to the captain but the captain sent her home like the rest. 
 
The first hour was easy, we tried to do something, but mainly stood there watching people pass by. Watching the two people working over the counter. Sometimes, the wait seems forever before the next person in line was called. J would stay in the line and let me use the restroom and rest my feet. I would go in the other room and see what's going on and also use their chair. After 20-30 minutes, I would get in the line and let J rest his feet. I try to relax, but the wait was really gruelling. Other people on the line couldn't stand it and decided to leave after more than hours of waiting. The more patient people remained and it included us. I have noticed all kinds of nationalities. There were Middle Eastern people, Hispanic, Asian looking people. Indians with their pretty garbs and colorful forehead accessories. It's a melting pot of people in there. Some I couldn't tell where they are from.  After about almost 50 trips to the restroom, and some whining and sighing, the line started to shorten about 1 o'clock. People were hungry and cranky and running out of patience. They security guards where having fun, exchanging stories and all. During my breaks, I ran into a Filipina woman by the restroom attending to her one year old boy. At first I wasn't sure, but when I asked whether she's Filipina, she said "oo." Then she started to tell me what they have been through since 8:30 in the morning.  I, of course told my story in return. We chit chat as she cleans her boy's bottom by the sink with soap and water. "Pilipino talaga, ano?" she mused. As she explains that she doesn't use baby wipes. Which is perfectly fine with me.  We returned to the waiting room where they had been waiting since 8:30 and she introduced me to her Pinoy husband. We chit chat for a little bit then, I told them I need to check on my husband.  I got back on line and waited. As we are nearing the counter, I tried to start a conversation with the black woman behind me.  She told me, she's from Ghana, West Africa. I heard so much about Ghana since I worked with someone from that area.  I don't know how it started but she started saying that the food here tastes different. Finally I found someone who can confirm my observations since day one. Then we talked about how they use a lot of fertilizers on vegetables, therefore they grow really big. Then she said that someone who grew up here wouldn't know the difference. Then I turned to the girl infront of me and learned she's from Iran. But she sounded very American. She says she spent more time here in America than in Iran. I asked if she speaks Arabic and she said "No, Persian". I didn't know that. I asked her how do they say hello. " Saalam" comes her reply. I told her in Arabic, "saalam" means goodbye. Well, the wait felt better as I chat with them. We didn't notice the line moving and it seemed better becase we were able to sit and rest out already hurting feet until it was our turn. The girl from Ghana kept on whining " My patience is really running out" she said. I was trying to keep her calm by saying " We are almost there." When it was her turn, she learned she didn't even need to be there. She was just here because of a typo on her name and that all she needed to do is mail the requested document to an address indicated to the letter she was holding. She waved good bye to us as she was eager to get out of there. We were so glad to wait since it seemed we didn't have to go and wait to the other room. After the woman handed back my passport with the stamp on it, we just looked to each other with sighs of relief. We got back to the car and headed to lunch. We went to this Vietnamese restaurant close to the International Farmer's Market. I guess out of exhaustion and hunger I got a medium bowl of beef noodle which was too much for me. My eyes were bigger than my hungry tummy then. Nevertheless, I ate the entire dish, accompanied with crunchy bean sprouts. J got his grilled shrimp with vermicelli noodles. After lunch we marched to the market. We bought a big live tilapia. I also bought some of my favorite green leafy vegeatbles; water crese, gai lan, and baby bok choi. I also got Atulfo mangoes, and two pieces of lemon grass.
 
We headed home after. And J was already exhausted and he still had to drive home for more than an hour.  When we got home, he just collapsed on the couch. " That was some ordeal!" he exclaimed. "Atleast we had your paper work done.We won't be back, not for another year anyway"
 
That was the longest three hours and a half of my life. You stand on that line like we did and you will learn real patience.



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