Let it be known that all necessary papers were handed in to the Spanish Consulate in Chicago on Monday, March 7th, at approximately 10:20am CST!
Yes, the government of Spain is now in control of all 100 pages. Here's photographic evidence that I treated said documents much as I would my own child--that is, wrapped them in plastic and carried them close to my heart.
The whole handing-in process took about ten minutes, and honestly, it was a little disappointing. Basically, the lady behind the window said, "Do you have all the papers?" Then I slipped everything, those delicate pages, lovingly photocopied, under the glass, only to watch her stamp them, then say in monotone, "We'll give you a call at this number when it's processed." That's it? I spent my fall and winter in a state of stress trying to collect all this stuff, flew to Chicago, and no one's even going to shake my hand?
Okay, it was truly not that dramatic, and any stress was my own fault, anyway; it stems from a certain anxiety problem I may or may not have. But I really was hoping for at least a nice smile or a "good job" or a scented sticker or something. (This is not a complaint, by the way. It's more of a...a comment card. Yes, here, on a blog, where it will reach none of the necessary parties and have no effect on real life, except for making me feeling slightly validated in my desire for fanfare.)
I got to stay with these really great people I'd never met before, Suzanne and Travis. They filled me with delicious Swedish food and let me feed baby food to their darling niece, and it was a wonderful time. Suzanne was the one to drive me to the consulate, and here we are afterward, being quintessentially Chicagoan at The Bean!
If you look closely, you can see the consulate building in the reflection. However, I'm not actually sure which one it is, as I have the navigational skills of a ferret.
I did learn a few fun facts about air travel on the journey. Namely, that the plastic cups they hand out on Delta flights hold approximately half a can of Minute Maid orange juice at a time. And that one of the saddest things you can see in an airport is the "Under Maintenance" sign blocking off one of the moving walkways.
I got bumped thrice in the Minneapolis airport, so I started to memorize the walking distance (in minutes) between the difference concourses. If you're going to get bumped, MSP is a pretty good place to do it: Caribou Coffee, moose postcards, and friendly little ladies who share your table at Starbucks and tell you how much they love North Dakota. I didn't really see Minneapolis proper, but this is what it looks like, give or take a few buildings:
And that is the consulate story. Yes, my papers are now in someone else's hands, and I have 5-12 weeks (give or take) before I fly back, get a visa in my passport, and leave the country! Ever so slowly, the pieces are coming together. Thanks be to God who knits all stories together, even when the plotlines seem like tangled threads to those of us with a limited viewpoint.