By A. Jonathan Mejía
Dear Santa, could you dry up the Rio Grande or erase the borders?
If you want to have even the slightest idea of what Judgment Day will be like, you have to go to an American Consulate to apply for a visa. The waiting room has a crowd with sweaty palms and a look on their faces as if pondering the question: “What if I get condemned?”
This is the equivalent of hearing: “Your visa was not approved.”
And those who are approved for their visas walk out as if they have been granted a pass to Santa’s Store to get all they can fit into the back of an eighteen wheeler - for free.
My wife and I were part of that crowd.
Christmas was coming and my wife wanted to spend that special time with her daughters and her son in law, and truth be told so did I. Obviously, you already guessed it: they live in the North and we live in the South. The difference between the two is akin to the difference between Glory and Hell: “the land of the free” and the land of the “I-wish-I-could-go-there” or a country with a dream and a nation with a nightmare. What would you choose?
I went to bed the night before my Visa Appointment holding both my dream of a White Christmas with our family and the nightmare that I would be denied such a courtesy. Eventually, I fell asleep.
When I had entered the stage where mental pictures phase in and out, I saw myself in front of Santa and this is what I was saying: “Dear Santa, could you dry up the Rio Grande or erase the borders? Come on!”
Closely following this and still half asleep I managed to think, “Wait - I am not a small child. I am a grown man hovering very close to a 60th birthday. I will not bother Santa. I will bother God instead. Dear God would you…”
The alarm beeped, waking me up with a jolt! Oh no, just before I put in my request too. I chuckled over the string of dreams, and in my morning prayers I made sure HE knew I did not believe in Santa.
We were denied our first request, with all the heartbreak that being ‘condemned’ brings. But a spark of hope still glimmered during a second opportunity. The decision would hang in the balance for another two weeks, and after a first denial, we knew the odds were not in our favor. The coin would be still in the air with a chance to be “condemned” so to speak. Yes, my soul would be in purgatory.
A number of days before Thanksgiving, we listened first hand as the Vice-Consul stated:
“Mr. and Mrs. Mejía, your Tourist Visas have been approved!”
Wow! I felt like shouting energetically: “Praise the Lord” but that was the wrong sanctuary. Instead, I whispered diplomatically through a bullet proof glass: “Thank you Madam…”
My wife standing next to me missed the whole thing but saw me walking through the crowd with that goofy look on my face. Yes, I know, I couldn’t play it cool - I am after all only human. Then she asked me the defining question: “Does this mean we get to spend Christmas with our children?”
The answer – a resounding yes – made for a wonderful holiday celebration.
Even so, my heart went out to those who did not make it and walked away in tears. They reminded me that I need to keep praying for a better world, the world to come, the world that has been promised to us, the world that will have no Rio Grande in its geography and no sun in the sky: The Land of the Redeemed.
©A. Jonathan Mejía
San José, Costa Rica
el Intérprete Online – November-December, 2011