Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Glasgow is a rockin' place.

Dear Glasgow,

Thank you for being the coolest people on the planet.

Last Thursday, my UK visa was denied. I'm married to a Scottish guy, I've lived in our flat for the requisite two years, I pay taxes, I passed that silly exam where I had to learn the percentages of races, religions, occupations, and political parties. I left the visa office a crumpled mass of tears and frustration, desperate to go back to America.

I trudged around Govan (not the finest of Glaswegian neighborhoods) looking for the underground and wailing. The map function on my iPhone was even confused. When I finally stomped down the steps and slid into the narrow carriages, I completely lost it.

During the six stops to Buchanan Street, three people offered me tissues. Once above ground, I had a choice: drink a bottle of wine, or get a facial from Origins. I chose the latter; they had no space, but booked me in at a rival store. There, the lovely Christine pampered and tutted and hugged and reminded me that 'it's just a blip, hen. Just a wee blip.'

Christine is in her 60s and looks 45. She's got a 'miracle baby' son who is 18. Her first husband - well, who cares, because her next husband asked her to marry him on Valentine's Day after six years. Every customer and colleague waved to Christine as they walked by. Some stopped to chat, making me smile with strange stories and silly anecdotes. And Christine didn't charge me for the facial. 'Dinnae be a stranger,' she said. And I won't.

The two loneliest times of my life since moving abroad: 1) The Saturday after I failed my driving test for the second time. 2) Last Thursday, coincidentally my dad's 65th birthday. Alone in a city where I know people but don't know them well enough to call them crying over a denied visa. But everywhere I went, people were kind. 'Chin up', the underground ticket lady said. 'Aye, y'allright', one of Christine's friends said. Few places in the world are as friendly as Glasgow. They don't get in your business; they just want you to know that it'll get better. Life sucks sometimes, and we move on. Happens to everyone.

So thanks, Glasgow, for making me smile, putting up with me freaking out about this, and reminding me why I love living in Scotland so much.

I go back for a re-assessment on Thursday. Hopefully I'll get to stay here.


Erik R. said...

That pretty much echos my impression of Scotland. Scottish people rock.

Simon Varwell said...

Glad you had such a good experience of Glasgow! It's a great place, in controlled doses.

Sharon said...

Glad people were kind to you. You deserve it.

Jesse said...

Bureaucracy sucks! I'm sorry you had to deal with that, but glad you found a silver lining. Keep us posted on your next visit.

Tony Ross said...

That's pretty much SCOTLAND for you Kristin...

The only other place I had that kind of "caring" attitude was, coincidentally, in the US!

Glad you found what you needed that day.