embassy day has come and gone. and boy it was quite a day. it started about 8.30 in the morning. eleri and i were dressed, bag packed, baby bjorn strapped on and adjusted and at the train station. just in time for the signal failure and train delay. sweet. an excellent start to the day. we finally made it into central london an hour later (two people offered me a seat on the train! unbelievable london commuting behavior) and slowly began the tube journey to paddington station.
in an interesting development that occurred the night before we were to go into the embassy, i found out that i needed the actual paper ticket that eleri will travel on in november. the embassy wanted to see it as proof of travel for her rush passport. I was not planning on getting the paper ticket until we actually went to the airport to check in, but clearly that would no longer work. so before the embassy, me and big e would have to go to heathrow and back. not ideal, but hey, you do what you gotta do.
so from paddington we caught the very expensive, but very fast, Heathrow Express. and she cried the whole way to the airport. i couldnt figure out why until i looked at my watch and realised it was time for a feed. 'i will just hold her off until we get to heathrow. surely they will have a feeding facility' i thought to myself. WRONG. NO FEEDING ROOM. i even asked just to make sure. seriously?! what about all of us breastfeeding mom's out there who want to maintain a little modesty? well, for me that meant feeding the little one in the airport bathroom, sitting on the toilet. nice. but hey, no more tears after that. and i was able to quickly sort out the paper ticket and be on my way back into london.
from paddington to oxford street. at this point we were just killing time until our appointment at the embassy. we walked up and down oxford street, looked at all the nice shops. e was enthralled by the christmas lights and i was beyond annoyed by all the londoners who kept bumping into us. now before you say "oh, everyone bumps into people occasionally" London 'bumping' is not an accident. people in the city are more than happy to run you over if it helps them get where they are going 2 seconds faster. obviously saying excuse me would slow them down too much, so they just run you over. i cant count the number of times that we were shoved, hit, run into and pushed out of the way. people i had a BABY, an INFANT, strapped to my chest. how could you miss that?! why would you think it would be ok to run into me?! it was not ok with me. so by oxford street, whilst eleri enjoyed the sparkly lights, i was pretty much walking with my elbows out just daring anyone to come close. one woman did and she got an elbow in the face. (i am not mean people, she hit eleri and made her cry. and she only got an elbow in the face because she was just that short)
rhys met us shortly thereafter and we started to make our way to...dun, dun, dun....the American Embassy. apparently i killed a little too much time wandering oxford street because rhys and i were practically running to make it for our appointment time. it was a nice run through mayfair and down park lane though. two of the nicest, most posh areas in london.
we arrive at the embassy and begin the 30 minute process that is american security. we finally make it inside, to the right room and joined the massive queue. about an hour and half later our number was called and we excitedly made our way to window one. i had carefully been collecting all the necessary documents for this day. all of my passports, expired and current, rhys passport, marriage certificate, birth certificate, school transcripts, proof of residency in both the us and the uk, pictures, drivers license etc... etc... i was sure everything was set. and i was wrong. the woman behind window one informed me that eleri's passport photos were the incorrect size. crap. she was actually really helpful though. she sent rhys and the baby back out of the embassy and down to regent street to an 'american approved' photo shop. i had to stay and have an interview to prove my american-ness. because clearly my american passport, american birth certificate, american marriage licences and american accent are not enough proof. i had to name in order every, single school i attended from preschool to graduate school. i passed. they told me to sit back down and they would call our number again. so i waited. and waited. and rhys came back. and we waited some more.
window four. some more questions. window eight. pay for the registration of consular birth. wait. and then wait some more. window one again. window eight again to pay for the passport. then wait. wait. wait. and then window one yet again. she said it all looked good. they would send us everything in the special delivery envelope that we had to buy from the embassy. how kind of them to offer that service, and for only twenty pounds at that.
by this point its been nine hours since i left the house. i have been carrying around a baby that weighs almost 15 pounds and waiting in more queues than anyone would ever want to. i am tired. i am hungry. and i am grumpy. its dark outside because in the winter it gets dark about 3.45.
and it has started to rain.
rhys is holding the baby and i pull out the umbrella. we all huddle under, pop into starbucks and head back down oxford street to go home. and then.....then it happens. everything fades away and it becomes magical. here we are, arm in arm, huddled under a tiny umbrella trying to shield the side ways rain drops off eleri's face, gingerbread latte in hand, and christmas lights glowing overhead. it doesnt matter that it has been a very long and very expensive day. it doesnt matter that i haven't eaten anything since 7am. nothing matters anymore. i am with my family in one of the most exciting cities on earth. it was a glorious moment. i turned to rhys and said it was probably one of my favourite moments ever. and to be honest, it probably makes the top 5. my husband, my daughter and me; walking along the crowded streets of london with millions of lights twinkling just for us.
it was the perfect ending to a not so perfect day. the morning and afternoon may have been a bit rough (to put it mildly) but by nightfall, it was a magical wonderland. moments like that remind me how lucky i am to live in london.
however, as we came in off the street and tried to make it on the tube in Friday rush hour...well i was reminded why i am NOT lucky to live in london. but hey, you give and take. and i would never take back those magical few moments with my family on oxford street. for lack of a more articulate word, it was awesome.