Can’t Stand It, I Know You Planned It

I can still hardly think about this without freaking out, so just the bare bones: The visa was returned to me yesterday. They were unable to process it because I, working on some faulty information and neglecting to cross a few Ts and dot several Is, didn’t include everything I was supposed to include. Luckily I had everything I needed right on the table upstairs in my room so I was able to clap everything into an envelope and send it back to DC overnight an hour later, hands shaking the whole time. I have been having a sort of long-wave anxiety attack ever since.

I keep telling myself that it was just a mistake and that I was lucky to have all the information I needed right there and to have been at home when the envelope was delivered, to live down the street from the post office so I could just fly over there and get it back out. I keep telling myself that if they accept the application (I have no idea if they even looked at it other than to see it was incomplete) and they turn it around as quickly as they did this time then I can still get a decent plane ticket and get to Wellington. I keep telling myself that every single expat I know has some sort of immigration horror story—I even have another one, from last October when they just sort of…lost…my application, along with my passport and credit card information, for a week or so. I keep telling myself that I’ve done everything I can do and it’s possible everything will go smoothly and that I’ll be laughing at myself about this in a week or so. I keep telling myself that soon I’ll be able to post a picture of myself holding up the visa in triumph and that I’ll be making plans to meet friends at Espressoholic before I know it.

But I also keep wondering why I made such a stupid, predictable, easily-avoidable mistake. I mean, I really did read all the guides and actually printed out a rough draft of the whole thing—I tried to consider all the option and to cover all my bases. I keep wondering if I am sort of subconsciously sabotaging myself by making it impossible to go—Immigration physically have my passport at the moment, so I couldn’t even go on a tourist visa and apply for a work visa from Wellington. But why would I do that? I have been trying to get back to New Zealand for over a year, I’ve spent so much money and time and effort to be there, I have said goodbye so many times to so many people in order to be there—why would I mess up something so simple now, with five weeks to go?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I really don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening at all right now, with any part of my life–I don’t know what this stupid, stupid mistake will cost me or what the end of this incredible, amazing, heartbreaking, exhausting year will bring.


  1. Oh, sweetheart, no. It’s okay. It will be okay. And I am 100% sure they didn’t look at it at all other than to check off if everything was there (just like the horrid woman in accounting at my job 10 yrs ago).

    Sending you love.

  2. This is just a guess, not an actual suspicion or intuition or anything, but maybe after living back at home with your mom for the last few months and faced with being away from her and your sister for an indefinite period of time, you realize deep down that you really want to stay and be near your family.


  4. Chiara, these it nothing deep seeded here. It was just a mistake. I’m on my third returned app from the INS thanks to their vague instructions. Immigrating is not an easy process anywhere. Cut yourself some slack.

  5. I keep wondering if I am sort of subconsciously sabotaging myself by making it impossible to go… I have said goodbye so many times to so many people in order to be there—why would I mess up something so simple now, with five weeks to go?

    Nope. It was just a simple mistake. Don’t beat yourself up or look for the deeper meaning. I don’t want to mention the elephant in the room… and yet I will: it’s not as though your visa is the only thing your mind and heart are processing, at the moment.

    Cut yourself some slack, my friend. Just a mistake, and one that you were able to quickly save. You will laugh about this soon.

  6. This kind of stuff is constant with government bureaucracy.

  7. Having gone through a similar process recently, and anticipating a much more complex one soon, I can say with authority that this happened because even with all the preparation in the world, immigration applications are still really hard. (Hell, they have an entire professional class here built up around handling the applications for people.)

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  8. Simple mistake. On my end of INS (coming into the US), I’ve had sets of forms returned to me multiple times. One for my signature being a wee little bit outside the box. So, it happens, and you were able to fix it quickly. Not a worry!

  9. I tend to overanalyze stuff, too, but sometimes, seriously, we just make mistakes and it doesn’t have some deeper meaning. This is hard for my occasionally neurotic brain to accept, but I think it’s true! Best wishes it returns to you toute de suite and you can get on the plane very soon.