Friday, October 1, 2010

Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Ridiculous Journey

Today is October 1st. For most of you, that means 30 more days until Halloween, 55 days until Thanksgiving, etc, etc.

For us, October 1st means that we have exactly one month until pack-out. It means that we will be leaving Falls Church in 34 days. It means that we are expected to arrive in Guadalajara in 38 days and that TJ starts working in 39 days.

And we still don't have any earthly idea where we will be living...which means we don't know if we will be able to bring all, or any, of our pets with us. The Department of State offers a couple of different housing options for it's diplomats and their families to choose from, but final say on the matter does go to the housing board. We are at their mercy. Without a response from them, we do not know if we should find long-term pet sitters or make arrangements for international travel. Given the fact that we have to fly the pets into the country, it's not like we can decide to hide them as we have often done in the past.

Oh, and to top it all off, we recently found out that we may not be able to take my Jeep Compass with us. The first sign of trouble was the disclaimer stating that we must provide a marriage license to show cause for transporting any vehicle not in the employee's name. Great. If someone can hurry up and legalize same-sex marriage at the federal level, we'll get right on that. We decided to feign ignorance on the matter and hope that someone possessing either actual ignorance or a kind heart would let the paperwork pass through.

That's when we discovered problem number two: anyone wishing to ship a vehicle overseas must present a title of ownership. Unexpected, but it made sense. Trouble is, we think the title is in our Household Effects shipment that has been out of reach since February. No big deal. Titles are easily replaced.

This brings us to the mother of all problems: Any vehicle not paid in full requires a letter from the lien-holder granting permission to export the vehicle. And so it was with very little hope that I contacted Wells Fargo this afternoon to request just such a letter. The first young lady I spoke to was very friendly and advised me to contact a special 1-800 number that handles military and miscellaneous government exports. And so it came to pass that I spoke with Christina, my "Account Manager," who in no uncertain terms advised me that I cannot export the vehicle. I politely informed Christina that we would be leaving the country for the express purpose of performing a diplomatic mission for the US Government, and that I had been given her phone number with the understanding that she handles such matters. Her response? "Well, are you the diplomat, or is it your partner?" I decided that this was a good time to remind Christina that I am not allowed to marry my partner of 7 years, and asked if she would be so kind as to not further discriminate based on an archaic law.

I was placed on hold for 15 minutes.

When the elevator music stopped, I found myself speaking to Cesar, Christina's supervisor. Cesar informed me that my request had been escalated to the legal department and that I would have a response withing 48-72 business hours. Wednesday. By our calculations, we only have until Friday to get the paperwork turned in to guarantee that the car can be shipped at all. I don't know what bothers me more: the small margin for error this has given us, or the sneaking feeling that Cesar's Spanish accent was supposed to evoke some sense of understanding in my Mexico-bound heart.

Fortunately, I was able to obtain my Medical Clearance, Travel Orders, and Diplomatic Passport without difficulty. My visa is pending review but looks to be processing without incident. Prior to the Obama administration, same-sex partners were granted fewer rights than household pets. Given the difficulty we are having with animals and inanimate objects, I cannot begin to fathom how many hoops we would have had to jump through in order for me to accompany TJ to post just two years ago. I guess there are some things we can be thankful for.

As for our existing problems, I think we can kill two birds with one stone. We aren't allowed to drive across the border, but nobody said anything about them...
In the dead of night, dos perros bravos
attempt to cross the Mexican border
in un coche prohibida


  1. Two things: 1) once you've done it once, you'll know what to expect the next time around. I know you feel like it's difficult to be a same-sex partner in the FS, but I have to say that now you have even more support than the rest of the MOHs. I traveled with Anthony to 2 posts and you're at least getting on TJ's orders and everything. As for the car - which was also in MY NAME - I ended up adding Anthony's name to the title. That might help you.

    And 2) Unfortunately, moving never gets easier with the FS. Each time it feels like you're reinventing the wheel. And each time it is different, in wholy new, stressful ways. I'm sending you one big-ass hug.

  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement...they are much appreciated.

    We're considering adding TJ's name to the title, but we were told that we will have to refinance in order to do so. It also may require a trip down to Orlando (which I am SO not opposed to) to finalize the paperwork.

    I'm sure it will all turn out ok. It's frustrating, to be sure, but I'm not all doom-'n-gloom about it. :-)