A Message from Above, or Gravity Does Its Thing

At around 8 o’clock yesterday morning the other shoe completed its freefall.

The news first dropped via telephone–“Unfortunately, her permit has been denied,” said the functionary on the other end of the line. I could tell something hadn’t gone as planned when Niels’ face registered shock and disbelief, an indignant, “Wieso?” bursting unchecked from his mouth.

Later, the decision nudged its way in via post.  An unassuming white envelope contained the ignominious message, its signoff, “Mit freundlichen Grüßen” and an obliquely threatening reminder that the German government remains aware of my September 3rd entry.

My work permit–my ticket to stability, to a future with Niels–has been denied.

Oddly enough, the basis is monetary. According to the German Office of Labor, the proposed rate of pay by my future employer is too meager. Refusing to clear such a job is the Arbeitsamt’s attempt to discourage businesses from offering posts that pay a pittance in order to attract foreign labor. This mission sounds noble on the surface, though I can’t help but wonder if slightly less altruistic undercurrents run beneath. I refuse at this point to pursue such a tangly web. Righteousness really isn’t at issue now, because regardless of the ground or unspoken motivations, the German government has chosen not to grant me a permit, and this means that my options are slim:

1) Find a new, full-time-paying job. This feat seems unlikely given I’ve only two weeks to swing it. Has this stopped me from scouring job boards and finding two to which I’ll begin applying after I write this post? Nein.

2) Pray that my theoretical future employer, denied for their too-tiny offer, will heave a lot of faith behind me and offer me the higher salary that would allow me to start immediately. I like fairy tales such as these, but I’ve found that reality doesn’t much care to adhere to their tenets.

3) Cobble together a plan for acquiring a language learning visa, though I fear it’s too late even for that. Hell. It’s too late even to get married (Yes, mom, I’m sorry, but I did check).

4) Or there’s number four: do what they ask, simply refrain from fussing and by December third…leave. Leave the new home Niels and I have found. Leave the life we’ve been trying to root in German soil. Leave the person I love the most. Leave. I don’t like the sound of number four, but it might be the way.

With leaving comes the question I hate to ask: where do I go? I still have a renewable Spanish identity card and, thanks to a frenzied email shot into cyberspace during last night’s fit of despair, a job I could return to in Madrid. I’d have a home. I’d have a salary. Ostensibly, I’d have health care, but I still wouldn’t have Niels. Alternatively, I could return to the US. My parents would be glad to have me for Christmas, my grandmother delighted to see me once more. I can’t say this option is altogether unappealing to me, but I can’t say it feels right, either.

I never stop feeling grateful that there are friends, colleagues, and family who love me and want me back with them to work or to live. The problem is this: over the past two years, all the moves, all the languages, the many communities filled with affection, have thoroughly addled my homing device. The dial crazily spins on its axis instead of pointing me back to a place I can clearly define as “home.” Where is it, then? Is it here in Berlin, amongst a people I’m still figuring out how to know, a language that confounds me every time I open my mouth? Is it back in Madrid with Amber and Fernando and good friends who’ve constituted family for the past three years? Or is it in Hartford, in an apartment that’s never been home base to me, tucked away in a back room off the kitchen only a few feet away from my slumbering parents? I don’t know. I’m not sure where to go now, or what makes the most sense given that in December the forbearance I requested on my Middlebury loans will expire and I am a person who needs consistent health coverage. Joblessness is no fun, even if I’ll never be lacking for locales when I try to choose a place to hang my hat.

It strikes me that the person with whom I’d pledged to make a home is here, but it’s possible that without some sort of swift intervention, I can’t be.

What’s the next step, dear reader? I can’t tell you that. For now I hang in suspended animation, waiting on my maybe-future-employer’s decision, waiting on the Ausländerbüro, waiting on my instincts to tell me in which direction the Ruby Slippers should whisk me. For now, I’m stuck watching the other shoe from above, wishing gravity’d never dragged it down to earth, or that it at least plans to fling a bone along after it sometime soon.

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21 thoughts on “A Message from Above, or Gravity Does Its Thing

    • Megan! Oh, my God! Despite circumstances, it just made me so delighted to know you read this, to know you’re there. Thank you, and thanks for the sympathy. A bone may come flying out of the wild blue yonder yet, we just have to wait and see. Giving up and packing a suitcase isn’t quite happening yet.

  1. Come visit me for a couple of months. Take the boy. We’ll get you a job here, he’ll be a kept man, then after the holidays are over and we have drunk all of my granddad’s home made wine, you’ll go back and get a new job in Germany. The plan is solid gold.

  2. Caitlin, I don’t believe it!!! Just when you had everything figured out, I really don’t understand why they won’t just give you the permit. I’m so sorry to hear this, and if you need to talk please let me know. And of course, if you need to come back to your 3rd home in Madrid, you have a place to stay.

    • Hey, Rachie! I do understand why they won’t give me the permit. My job was set to be an internship, at least for the time being. It sounded promising in that it could turn into something more permanent, but that isn’t, it seems, enough for the Agenteur für Arbeit. Thanks, too, for both the support and the offer of a place to stay. We’ll see how this all develops! How’s your German progressing?

  3. Cati,

    First off you write so well!! Your writing so reminds me of your Dad!

    Ask the Universe for the Highest and Best for all Concerned!!! Trust that is will happen.!! See it happening , feel it happening, it is already there on the quantum grid. If you want to stay in Germany with all of you energy see yourself there, employed, with Niels and it all working out for you, job, visa, salary, insurance. When you fall into fear/doubt just return to how much you LOVE Niels and keep knowing it will all work out when you hold onto that energy.

    I just read recently “When one door closes another door opens, it’s just the dark hallways in-between that are a bitch” 🙂

    Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat Pray Love. Her second book Commitment is all about a period of time when her husband was unable to enter the USA for I believe 6 months. It’s a great story of h
    ow they waited for his visa. They created adventure and a best selling novel and at that time she did not have a lot of money.

    If you heart is set on Germany with Niels, quantum theory will explain for it to manifest see it, believe it, feel yourself there, know it on all levels of your body, mind and spirit. Go buy something for the apartment and see a wonderful miracle coming your way!!

    Hugs and Love, Auntie Judyxoxoxo

    • Thanks for the good vibes, Judy. 🙂 Also, if Liz Gilbert can squeeze a book out of her life experiences and make a meager success, I really ought to get on exploring book deals…

    • Also, you’re right–I definitely got the writing bug from my dad along with some stylistic leanings. 🙂 He was my first editor and critic, and will always be the most formative, I think.

    • Also, you’re right–I definitely got the writing bug from my dad along with some stylistic leanings. 🙂 He was my first editor and critic, and will always be the most formative, I think.

  4. Best of luck of course Caitlin! I hope everything works out. Despite the downside to the article, I love your style of writing!

  5. Caitlin,

    My heart totally sank reading this. Don’t they know who you are and what you’ve done to get there??? They should. Good luck. I have my fingers crossed for you and Niels. I’ll see if Patti has any shady family members in Germany that can help you out!

    Joe

    • Aww, thanks, Joe! I appreciate the support. I admit, though, that past learning German and applying to a lot of jobs and internships, I haven’t done much to get here! Niels made it agreeable and easy; he’s the one that should be apologized to by the Arbeit office! Thank you for reading, for thinking of me, and for the support. Grüße to you and the family!

  6. Caitlin, it’s so refreshing to read someone who writes well. I actually read the whole post! I’m sorry that you’re having such troubles. Can you find a last-minute job teaching English. I’ve been told that the visa for that is actually really easy to get. Freelance visas are easy to come by as well, as long as you have some sort of creative thing that you can do. (My best friend and her husband moved to Berlin to work for a church there. They could not get visas through that job despite hiring a lawyer and everything. Then someone suggested they get freelance visas and poof, they had them in no time. He got one for being a musician– he plays in a band– and she got one for modeling). Good luck dear Caitlin!

    • Ah, Elise! How did I not even seen this comment ’til now? I think I went on an “approve comment” blitz before running out the door to do something, and then never replied. Thank you for the compliment–I love to write, and I’ve been doing it for long enough now that I hope I can at the very least make it a pleasurable experience for anybody who takes the time to read one of my whole, rambling posts!

      I actually DID ask about the freelance visa vis-a-vis your sugestion, but to le to acquire this type of permission one needs to be able to prove their (livable) freelancing income from the past 3 years. Unfortunately, I can’t.

      I’m heading to the Ausländerbehörde tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes…

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Boxland, 2011, and Hope for a Brighter (or at least more legal) Tomorrow | My Name Is Not María

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