Welcome to the USA – Georgia style!

I think it’s naive to suggest with 7 billion people on the planet that the person you’ve supposed to end up with is automatically going to be on your doorstep. Nevertheless there’s a practicality to dating local isn’t there?

I remember going on a date a few years ago and this woman lived relatively locally. I spent the day at work, we went out for dinner and I was home again the same night – a traditional date! She was friendly, we had plenty in common, she was relatively attractive and we had a nice meal together but that was it. She ticked all of the right boxes on paper but it was just nice. It wasn’t a bad date as such, it’s just that it wasn’t a date-date, it was a mate date. There was no chemistry, no butterflies, no spark and ultimately no second date.

As practical as finding someone that lives locally is, you need that something extra and for whatever reason I always seem to find it in people that live millions of miles away from where I live.

I’ve given some mention to my romances in this post here (Read me!), when explaining why I visited Salzburg, so you might recall that before dating Haleigh (Washington State) that my love interests were with Mella in Georgia.
Things had fizzled out with Nicole but of course, Germany wasn’t far enough away to find love so I made my first trip across the pond in eight years.

TheBig30-Journey

I’d only ever been to the USA on family trips to Florida (1997, 2002, 2004, & 2008) and my parents had pretty much taken the lead on those trips so it felt like this was my first time visiting the US as an ‘adult’. I was traveling solo and the first piece of business was to get a valid visa. It’s actually pretty simple, you can easily do it online and it wasn’t too expensive. Visa granted – I’m going to the USA!!

The excitement and nerves kicked in. I was going to meet Mella finally, plus some of her friends and family, but on the flipside I was going to meet Mella finally. On one hand it was exciting but on the other hand, it’s a bloody long “first date” if you can call it that. I was going to Georgia for two weeks!

Maybe. That’s the thing about booking a trip, you do so assuming you’ll reach your destination without any issues. US border control had other ideas –  “don’t be nervous about meeting Mella, there’s no guarantee we’ll let you in to Georgia anyway!!”

Booking your ticket and having valid documentation is only step one of entering the USA. On arrival I walked up to the next available desk and the entry process began. Passport checked, visa checked, fingerprints checked, eyes (retinal scanner) checked!

“Congratulations, you’ve passed step two! Now for the questioning!”
“I’m sorry, what?”

You’ve literally matched my fingerprints! What more do you want from me? The man at the desk asked me why I was here and in the back of my head was this little voice – “honesty is the best policy”.
So naturally I explained I was visiting somebody. In most places you visit that’s followed with a “have a nice trip Sir” but not here, not in the USA! It had set the alarm bells ringing.

“YOU’RE DOING WHAT!? NOT ON MY WATCH SON!”

Moments later he’d picked up the phone and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Shortly after an announcement was belting out of the tannoy system.
“Can someone please come and take this high-risk criminal away from desk number..”

It might have been a little more subtle than that but was effectively the message behind it, I looked up and wasn’t surprised to see it was my desk. Great. I’ve failed already.
“Can you follow this woman please?”

I foolishly thought I might get some sort of greeting but no, she snubbed my entire existence. The back of her head was as close as we were acquainted with eachother. This is the famous Southern hospitality I’ve heard so much about? She dropped me off at this small waiting room where I was left to ponder my fate. Fortunately they didn’t keep me waiting long and I was called up for further interrogation by some guy – another new face to try my luck with.

Round two! Fail this test and I’m going home! A thought that had me a little torn in truth. A one way trip to London is my punishment? Don’t get me wrong, it was far from ideal but this is the charade I have to bow down to?
London is my favourite city in the world, it’s home for me, and you’re wanting me to jump through hoops to get in to Georgia? Georgia!! Are you bloody mad?

“I’m already slumming it coming here mate.”

London7
Co-operate or you’re going to this awful place!!

Nevertheless I figured I’d keep my thoughts to myself. The US border probably isn’t really the setting to start pointing out all of the USA’s flaws. You’ve got to understand that across the pond they believe that the USA is the biggest and the best and the land of the free and blah, blah, blah. I played nice and I tried to be as co-operative as possible. Time for a game of 20 questions!!

“Why are you here?” “How long are you here?” “How did you meet?” “Where are you staying?” “Are you visiting anywhere else in the US?” “When are you going home?” “Have you booked your flight?” “What does she do for a living?” “Are you employed?” “When do work expect you back?” “How much money do you have?” and on and on and on.

I’ve visited some places and you half-wonder if they’ve even looked at the photo on your passport before passing it back to you.
“That was a black woman in the photo by the way..”
“Just hurry up and enter the country!!”

This was the complete opposite and it does get exhausting getting interrogated to determine whether you’re worthy of entering the US. One final question – “Do you have Mella’s phone number?”
SHIT! I don’t! I hadn’t anticipated this debacle and assumed I wouldn’t need it. Luckily I managed to find it on Facebook, passed it over and then had my phone confiscated.

He obviously didn’t want me giving Mella a heads up but it was a tad frustrating. I was sent back to my little waiting room whilst he tried to get hold of Mella.

Now personally, I don’t accept phonecalls from numbers I don’t know. If it’s that important they’ll leave a message, right? I’ll decline and generally give the number a quick search on Google afterwards.

“Oops, that was US border control? I probably should have taken that!”

Fortunately Mella was much more sensible and did pick up, albeit unprepared for her own interrogation as this officer was keen to discover if our responses were consistent. A little time passed and my enthusiasm for Georgia was draining out of me. I mean if you’re going to send me home can we just get on with it?
Fortunately he was soon calling for my return and it was clear that, with Mella’s help, I’d passed the test! I’d been granted access in to America.

I can’t really remember what my reaction was. I think I was pretty apathetic by this point so I forgot to show my gratitude by doing cartwheels.
“Thank you so much for letting me in to Georgia..”

With that said it was clear the non-English speaking guy at the desk to my left was being advised by his Spanish translator that he wasn’t getting in to US so I suppose it could have been worse. I went and found my suitcase and soon enough I was free to stay in the US forever!!! Muahaha!

Alright, calm down Big Brother (I know you’re reading), I’m joking! I didn’t plan to stay, I was free for the next two weeks though and quickly found a friendlier face awaiting my arrival – Mella. Unsurprisingly we didn’t stick around at the airport for too long and made our journey to my hotel in downtown Atlanta. I was finally in Georgia!

More on that to follow soon! Stay tuned!

Jason