Moving to Germany had always been on our radar since Ryan’s job brought him here for the first time.
When we got the official approval, it was time to – as we like to say – spring into action.
We shared the exciting news with our family and friends, collected all of the required paperwork, met with the German Consulate in Chicago, found a flat, updated my passport with my new married name (called in a panic to change to expedited processing), booked our flights.
All was going according to plan – until it was two weeks, one week, one day before our scheduled flight – and still no Visas (or passports…they take those when you apply for the Visa). By this point, I was in absolute panic mode. Our flights were already booked, first month’s rent already paid – what were we going to do?
We received a tracking number and were assured that, yes, it would be close, but we would get our Visas on time – they would definitely arrive on Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest. Our flight was set to depart on Thursday.
I do not like waiting till the last minute to do things, so this was driving me crazy.
We kept checking the tracking number – hitting refresh every couple of seconds – only to see the same message over and over again: “label created, not yet in system”. We opened up the mailbox every time we passed it – but it was always empty.
It felt like we were waiting for our college acceptance letters.
We called USPS, the Consulate, the lawyer helping us through the process, anyone that would (or wouldn’t) listen. The Consulate kept assuring us that everything was indeed in the mail on route to us. USPS kept assuring us that they had no record of the package. One of the USPS reps told us that it could be stuck in customs and could take weeks or months to get to us. Didn’t he know that it was being mailed from Chicago to Michigan? I started to think someone was playing a bad joke on us.
At one point I was curled up crying underneath a blanket, wondering if this was a sign that we weren’t meant to make the move.
In my mind we had reached the worst case scenario so I told Ryan we needed to start putting together a backup plan. We could rebook our flights but wouldn’t be able to leave for another week or it would cost over $3k per person to make the change. I thought about calling the same day passport agency in Detroit – but realized we would still be out of luck without the Visas.
On Wednesday night, we still had our going away dinner with family. It felt weird saying goodbye for now knowing that we might not be leaving as planned. Everyone kept reminding us that things would work out how they were meant to.
Before I knew it, it was Thursday morning – the day of our flight – and still nothing in the mail. As luck would have it, there was a Verizon outage in the area so calls weren’t going through. My mom drove to the local USPS to check on the status of the package…they still had nothing but told her they would let her know if anything changed.
A few hours later we got an update that all of the mail for the day had arrived and our package was not there. I called Ryan to tell him the bad news, and that it was time to rebook the flights. All along through this process he had been his usual glass half full self. But this time I could hear the disappointment in his voice.
I was convinced that our Visas and passports were lost in space – never to be found again.
There was no chance we were getting on our flight that night, so my mom and I went to lunch as Ryan drove home from work. I ordered a mimosa because I needed one.
Then a FaceTime came through from Ryan. He had just gotten back to my parent’s house (where we were temporarily living before the move). In true Ryan fashion, he had not called to rebook the flights yet because he knew there was still hope.
Ryan opened up the mailbox one more time…and this time it was not empty.
I could not believe it. I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. He’s done it again, I thought.
I shared the news with my mom (who was just as surprised/nervous/excited as me) and we asked for our food to go. We only had a couple hours to finish packing and get to the airport. After all of this, we were definitely not going to miss our flight.
And here we are – in Germany. We made it.
Have patience and trust the process.