Waiting for my visa (tier-4, student, UK) provokes strange, lucid dreams in which I am opening an envelope over and over again, flipping eagerly through messily stapled pages to see whether I have been approved or denied. I never used to be able to read in dreams. Words turned into gibberish, letters morphed and melted. I never used to be able to call 911, either, but then I called 911 in real life and now in my dreams I am a pro. I call 911 all the time. I call even when there is no reason to call; I call even if everything is fine.
Waiting for my visa, I get sick—physically sick—I eat full meals and then sit and wait as my internal organs twist themselves up into complicated, indigestive knots. I pop a gross of Tums, chewing them slowly and thoughtfully as I look into the mirror and try and imagine what I will do if it doesn’t come, what I will do if it comes and I have done something wrong, checked the wrong box, signed the wrong name, been (ultimately, tragically, dramatically) denied for temporary citizenship.
I can’t sleep. I lie in bed at night watching old episodes of Mad About You and 2-hour long podcasts of the Kevin Pollak Chat Show.
I dream about coffee shops. A line of specific B-list celebrities dumps too much sugar in my cup.
No thanks, really I’m fine, I say, pulling away from them, and they grab me by the shoulders and look seriously into my eyes and in the overly direct way of figments in dreams, say—But are you sure? Are you sure you’re fine? Because you don’t look fine. You don’t look fine at all.
When it finally comes—my visa. MY VISA!—I hold it for too long and feel actual relief like an extra ten pounds of weight lifted off my body. It is a physical pressure, a real thing that I have carried for weeks and now am suddenly, instantly, without. My body feels different. My knees, my elbows, my fingernails, my ankles. And because memory has a tendency of fading, I can eventually not recall that sense of waiting. I can only concentrate on what lies ahead: my best friend’s wedding, the long solo airplane ride to London, the shorter solo airplane ride to Edinburgh, the clothes and journals and shoes to pack. Now all my anxious waiting seems silly, seems absurd, and I can’t imagine what I was so nervous about.
Here it is now, the visa—I keep it on my bureau and look at it every time I walk into my room.
What were you so worried about? I think. But I can’t answer myself. I have no idea.