in or out?

It’s a few minutes shy of midnight as i type this. Tomorrow afternoon, i will be queuing at the US Embassy along with a throng of Filipinos who have one goal in mind: a US Visa. There will be a thousand-and-one reasons and circumstances surrounding our application for the elusive American Visa. Mine have been collated and filed in a clear folder.

A good number of the people I will brush elbows with tomorrow would have pulled countless strings—resulting in instantly infused bank accounts, hastily transferred land titles, even canned (read: untrue) answers to possible interview questions—just to make sure they find favor in the eyes of the all-powerful visa officer. I hear that in less than five minutes of chit-chat with one of four (five or six) straight-faced visa officers, our US visitation fates will be determined.

I’m going—or more appropriately, attempting to go—to the US, to attend a work-related training conference. I admit, I am excited about the prospect of traveling and learning abroad. (Okay, I’m also keen on enjoying snow for the first time, at least as much as my arthritic limbs would allow.) But my little research over the past few months have fed the pessimist in me. Stories abound of whimsical consular decisions: A family comes and says they want to go to Disneyland—Approved! A corporate executive seeking to travel for business efficiently parades his documents—Disapproved! Of course, tips come with the stories: Never appear too eager; Be pleasant; Do not present a document unless specifically asked; Hand the complete document folder to visa officer; Dress down; Dress up…

In the past weeks, I have succeeded in not thinking too much about what will happen tomorrow. Yes, I have asked friends to pray for an affirmative result. They eagerly committed to intercession on my behalf, but not without a friendly aside about that pasalubong if and when the trip materializes (hotel slippers, anyone?). Yes, I have prepared the necessary documents; nothing fake, except maybe for my Photoshop-enhanced picture. Hehe.

But, no, I haven’t really allowed my heart to so badly want this trip to happen. A part of me naturally insulates itself from the frustration of a disapproval by keeping expectations and the excitement at a manageable level. No browsing the brochures too much. No emails to friends in the States just yet. No shopping for extra-thick clothing. And no cancellation and postponement of March commitements yet…

Hmm.. is this position healthy? It’s safe, I know. But a little voice inside me seems to be coaxing me out of safety into the adventure of desiring…. Ahh, abstractions. It is too deep into the night for such.

Well, tomorrow’s result is not in my hands anymore—just as long as I manage to drag myself out of bed, dress fairly decently, and not forget any important documents; nor is it in the visa officer’s—no matter how unpredictable and powerful he/she seems to be. Tomorrow’s result, as with everything else, is in God’s hands. And that thought is comforting. But, in case you’re wondering about my sentiments right now: Yes, I’m excited and anxious at the same time. And, yes, I really, really want to go. And, oh yes, dear visa officer, if you are reading this (which is highly improbable), I will most definitely come back to my beloved Philippines.

So, in Sandara’s hate-it-or-love-it manner of speaking, “am I ‘in’ or ‘out’?” Will keep you posted. For now, the lure of sleep brings this tap dancer to a halt.

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