The officer replied it was not
necessary, as he just needed to see that she was alive! He peeked over
and saw the back of her head and an ear move. He thought she was a
kitten but said that was good enough, and motioned me away. I told
Ching; 'Cheek, imagine that!' She understood me.
When we reached Customs, officials there
asked my nationality. When I replied, 'British,' they said 'Red Zone.'
It felt as if I were about to be annihilated. They asked Rocky if he was
with me; he had already been through with no problems, but was nearby
waiting for me. When he replied, "yes," they told him to accompany me.
Rocky had been pushing a trolley
carrying my highly obvious, beautiful, pastel blue and bright
cerise-coloured suitcases. He had fourteen, (and they were large ones
too!) including two laptops and the two carry-on bags. He had sailed
through customs with all those suitcases, even though he was out of the
country for only five weeks. The few garments he brought on his visit
to me in the UK, were packed in the only suitcase I carried. I also had
Ching in her bag and my handbag over my shoulder.
At a deserted counter, I admitted to the
officials that Rocky carried my luggage. On opening my luggage, they
were confused at his belongings not being in a separate suitcase. When
my cases were searched, Rocky's clothes could still not be found.But,
one of the bags he carried were my lingerie! Which was a bit
embarrassing! On being asked several times, I told them his stuff was
there somewhere, amongst mine. My suitcases were thoroughly rummaged
through. The officers asked how long I intended to stay. I replied, "Two
weeks." My unexplained intention was to stay as long as I needed,
before either returning to my home or to organize my affairs and anyway,
I was legally allowed to stay in the country for three months.
For this amount of time I definitely
needed all I had brought with me. There was no telling how long I would
actually be here and it seemed silly to explain all that. They were
having trouble understanding my 'British' accent, especially as I was
holding my hand in front of my mouth so that they could not see my
missing front tooth! It had fallen out the day before, and my dentist
could not fix it in time for this flight.
The officials asked me why I had so much
luggage with me. I did not want to go into big explanations in case I
caused confusion, but what I said caused exactly that! So I now answered
them in full, saying I did not have time to sort out exactly what I
needed, so put in whatever I thought might be of use for any occasion. I
pointed out that the weight restriction had not been exceeded. I stated
there should not be any problem. But they still seemed most concerned
that I had also brought my important papers with me. I replied I wanted
to be sure they would not be stolen and to keep them with me was the
One small suitcase was packed full of my
prescriptions drugs. I had collected some up over the years so that I
would not run out. On top of that I had my new three months supply. I
know this was over the top, but it was not against the law and again I
did not want to leave them in my empty home. When that case was opened
the packets of prescription drugs flew out, all over the floor. Rocky
and I looked at each other as he whispered to me, "Honey we're going to
jail!" But of course, there was nothing illegal, nor any hard drugs. But
little did we know that the case Rocky carried onto the plane and had
at his side now, held a 12" triple serrated blade!
I had not wanted to leave it behind as I
had kept it in my car to keep me safe, and it had always represented a
type of security for me. (Although it could have now meant the opposite
under the present circumstances!) I still do not remember packing it in
that particular suitcase, which was to be carried on board. Rocky knew
nothing about it either. When we were in customs in the UK, I had been
stopped and had my nail scissors taken from me. We did not even think of
the blade and somehow, his carry on bag just sailed through. Luck must
have been on our side.
Back to the luggage search at O'Hare
Airport, Chicago. After much hanging around and them conferring with
each other, they told Rocky to wait outside. Against his protesting to
stay with me, they made me follow them what seemed like miles back to
some prison-like closed in rooms. Rocky had asked them why he could
not accompany me. They replied it was against federal law and that they
would not keep me very long. He was to wait outside. Rocky advised them
that I was on prescription medication and needed a drink to take my
pills, which were now overdue. They promised to look after me, but it
turned out to be a complete lie. They were totally unconcerned about my
I started to feel very confused and
anxious. I did not want to be separated from Rocky and was not even sure
if I would be able to find him again, after them taking me away so far.
It really struck me that I was in a strange land now and with all these
new accents. It had become something out of a television film, rapidly
turning into a nightmare!
All these officials had guns around
their waists. It was something I was not used to. I wondered if the guns
were loaded and concluded they probably were. I am not one to keep
quiet if I am getting bullied and it occurred to me I might end up being
shot. And I don't mean drunk. Even the threat of a gun did not stop me
from showing how fed up I was with their harassment and bad treatment.
They made me sit in a very austere room
on one of the many hardwood benches. There was no colour or comfort in
this room. There were two more officials now, which made seven all
together. They asked me the same questions over and over, not taking any
notice that I was having difficulty speaking as my throat was so dry.
My lips were actually sticking on my gums, and my throat had become
completely dry. This was not from nervousness, but from a condition to
do with my underactive thyroid. I suffered with dry mouth and needed to
use a mouth spray if I went without water for a long while.
My little Ching was crying
occasionally, as she wanted to get out of the bag and do a 'wee.' They
would not let me take her out of the bag, or even to put her in my lap.
They did not allow Ching a drink either. She ended up doing a wee in her
bag. This upset her greatly and of course me too. They could not have
been animal lovers.
The officials were getting very annoyed
with me as to my various reasons why I was coming out for this holiday.
My intention was to get my health back before considering official work,
in either country. Water was pouring off of me as the usual 'heats'
hit. I had been suffering this for a few years and have been treated
with oestrogen since, which has cured that condition. They must have
thought I was acting suspiciously. They refused to get me a drink when I
asked for one.
A Mexican officer had gone out to ask
Rocky questions. When the officer returned, he told the other officers
that I was a songwriter and performer. They could not understand these
answers as I had not mentioned this. I had only told them I was a
writer. They were now wondering why we were giving different answers to
the same questions.The main reason was Rocky thought he might embarrass
me if he mentioned we had met on an Internet site, over the ocean. And I
was not sure if I should talk about that.
I did not understand what was going on
at first. When asked where we had met Rocky had replied it was in
London, while I was singing with a band. He was trying to protect my
dignity. Meeting in London was true however.
I had only said I was a writer, now working on my autobiography and did not think to mention anything about performing.
They could not understand why I had come
to this country for a holiday with someone who they thought was a
virtual stranger to me. Or, why I should have let him stay in my home
after just meeting him in London the previous week. Actually, Rocky had
gone back to the States and this was another journey he made, to bring
me back for a holiday and so I could make my decision to stay or not.
Also he was taking me away from the threats aimed at me by the husband I
had just finished with, and who was causing me great problems. The
police also had to be involved with that.
I knew it would have caused further
confusion if I gave them enough information to understand that I had no
illegal intentions, especially, as there was a problem with
understanding each other. When asked, I said I had not worked on stage
for awhile, as I was not well, and that in the last year few years I had
only 'guested' with bands. Someone actually slammed a pen down on the
desk when I gave this answer.
It did not help when the blonde
official, who first checked my luggage, announced that I had brought all
my 'worldly' goods with me. She pointed this out to her superior, a
huge, black female officer. I butted in as politely as possible,
considering they were getting me very angry. My 'worldy' goods??? Cheek!
I had a whole house full of possessions left back at home.
I stated loudly, that that comment was
not true! They were not amused with me at all and I was angered that
they thought all I had here, might be everything I owned. What meagre
items did they have in their homes? I wondered.
The arrogant male Mexican officer, told
me that one of us was lying. He said that as Rocky was a CFO, a Chief
Financial Officer, he was obviously a respectable businessman. I agreed
with that, adding, "You can believe everything he says, I am just
confusing you all."
"Whose story is true?" I was asked.
"Both," I replied. I then had to go on and explain I was a writer and
also a songwriter and a performer. The Mexican officer suddenly asked if
I had brought a guitar. I had no idea how to answer as I did not want
them to get the impression that I may have come to live here right from
the 'off.' I had not made any decisions and knew I might be going back
and forth for a while anyway. When in doubt, it is always best to tell
the truth, regardless. I told them my guitar was being sent over to me. I
could not go without playing that for many days as I would lose the
hard pads over my fingers.
I then realized the problem was in our
conflicting stories as well as my having enough luggage for the year or
more. I now told them in no uncertain terms that if we had been
'planning' something, we would have given more sensible answers as we
had enough air travelling hours to do this. At least answers that
matched. I also told them I could easily have said I was staying for the
whole three months, but I had intended on two weeks first. I pointed
out that if I had any 'illegal' intentions I would have had my luggage
sent on to me, not risked this interrogation I was now going through.
I was told that they did not want to
hear anything else from me, because none of our 'stories' matched. I
tried to explain they were all part of the same thing and that nothing
about me was straightforward. I kept asking exactly what I had done
wrong. They spent a lot of time staring at me. I felt very
self-conscious about my missing tooth. It took my dignity away. I stared
back wondering if I was going to be locked up. And if so, would they
make sure Rocky got Ching back?
I then ignored the officials and spoke
only to the superior officer. I was amazed at how large she was. Not
just overweight, but large-boned too. She had one of the prettiest faces
I have seen. I wanted to tell her my 'secrets' of how to lose weight
quickly, as it might have made a difference to how she felt about
herself, with the stigma of being overweight. But, I was sensible
enough to keep my mouth shut.
However, I made her laugh when I
said how humiliating it was for me to be talking at this particular time
without my front tooth. I explained how my front crown had fallen out
the day before. It broke off when I bit into something hard. It looked
hideous having a huge gap right in the front of my mouth and so obvious
too. My pride was at stake being questioned at such a bad time.
I had to tell the male Mexican officer
to stop looking through my photographs. I was sure he would not learn
anything by looking at them. Occasionally when I was losing it, with the
irritating accusations of the officers, the superior 'pretty' officer
put her finger over her lips, as a warning to me. It sort of kept me
calmer. The officials were going back and forth to confer. They seemed
to be arguing amongst themselves. I could not be sure who was on my
side, but I knew someone must have been. Unless they usually argue when
deciding to let someone through or not.
Eventually, after my being there for two
and a half hours, the superior officer told me they were so totally
confused by me that they were letting me go. My immediate reaction was
to ask them, "That's it? All this time of questioning me and now I can
go? Just like that? After all you've put me through?"
The superior officer came to me and
lifted me up by my arm saying, "Just go." For some reason I knew she
liked me. The final decision had been hers. She wished me luck with
whatever I was doing, and I was then escorted by the six officers out to
Poor Rocky had been made to wait
outside, in the staging area of ground transportation. It took me ages
to find him, and I was dying to use the loo. (I mean, the bathroom, or
washroom. I have since come to terms with the strange way Americans
speak. I mean there is no bath in the washroom.) I was not as pleased to
see Rocky as I should have been, and he knew it.
Rocky had been on the phone for almost
two hours on and off with the limousine people, trying to re-arrange our
ride to his home. He found out that there had been a big security
crackdown at the airport that day. No cars were getting in or out. The
drivers who were waiting for people had been questioned and some were
Rocky had finally managed to get
a limousine to pick us up and was still speaking on a payphone. I had
just reached him and was annoyed that he would not put the phone down to
join me. I needed to tell him of all I had just been put through. He
kept motioning to the phone and telling me, "Just a minute."
I responded by saying, "I don't care, put the phone down, let's go! I need to get out of here!"
He repeated he could not, yet. I did not
know that he had spent two hours trying to get this far with the
transport people. If I had known, I would have been more patient.
By the time we went outside the doors, I
was dying for a cigar. (I did not smoke cigarettes and have since given
up cigars.) We still had to wait ages for the vehicle, and I needed to
go to toilet. Rocky told me to go back into the airport and find one. I
am afraid my language was not very lady-like. At that stage, I would
rather have wet myself!
We got inside the car, with some of the
suitcases, and a few had been put into the trunk space. Rocky had wanted
to welcome me into this country, but through no fault of his, American
people (well, Mexican custom officers) had upset me greatly. I had been
completely disgusted by this whole affair and wanted to go home to the
UK immediately. I was not impressed with the limo, as my suitcases were
taking up most of the room, and I did not want a drink from the cocktail
I will always remember poor Rocky
sitting by me, with his face in his hands as he deeply regretted my
being treated so badly by the Customs Officials, when UK Customs Officers
had made him feel so welcome back in England.
We arrived at the 'loft,' and although
his place was lovely, I was confused as the building had red brick
walls, and huge aluminium pipes across the ceiling! I didn't realise at
the time, that these apartments were expensive and sought after.
I realized my big gamble in coming
to this country, when I tried to turn a tap on. I just could not find a
way to make it work and it was so upsetting. It made me feel foolish and more irate with Rocky, who had
been apologizing for everyone's behaviour. I did feel sorry for him
though, as he looked so miserable.
I still kept repeating that I wanted to go back home.
But, the thought of leaving Ching forever, traumatised me. I sobbed my
heart out for hours as I looked at her and thought about leaving her in
this strange country. Although she loved Rocky, I knew how much she and I
would miss each other. I cried myself to sleep and wondered how I would
sort out this mess. I had burned my bridges really.
The original plan had been for me to go
back and forth twice on the visa scheme, while Rocky would treat Ching
really well until I got used to the idea of staying in America. Yes, I
would have missed her dreadfully, but I could take my time to decide if I
wanted to marry Rocky or not, even if I never went back to England.
I had left my house in the care of my
brother, Doug (which turned out the worst thing I could have done!)
until I was ready to sell or rent. It would not be that difficult to get
more suitcases and boxes sent over, and my possessions put in storage
over in the UK, and sent over when we could arrange it.
On awaking the next day I looked out of
the huge panoramic window. I loved the view of Lake Michigan, which
could be seen in the background. The priority was to get my front crown
back in. Rocky took me to an emergency dentist Downtown. Ching, of
course, was in my handbag.
The dentist removed the other front crown
and fitted two horrid plasticky temporary crowns in their place. This
was the only way my missing crown could be fixed. I had to stay for at
least two weeks now in this country, waiting for the new crowns to be
put in. More work needed to be done later, as a result from the car
crash accident I went through in November 2001.
We went for a meal afterwards, and I
fell in love with Chicago immediately. We went into shops and I was
amazed at how everything was laid out differently to the way I was used
to, in the UK. How can shops, (stores) be set-up so differently? Even
the entrances to shops were strange to me as there were revolving doors
and lifts (sorry, elevators) and so many escalators. I had mostly
only seen them in the subways in London before. I had to learn how to
use these revolvoing doors, especially when so many people get into them
at the same time. I often went round a few times too many, as it was
scary jumping out. A bit like skipping rope.
People who heard me conversing with
Rocky, kept asking me to speak. They said it did not matter what I said.
They wanted to hear my 'accent.' I do not speak with any type of
dialect, but just have the very British kind of voice. I must admit that
I loved the attention I was getting by these friendly Americans, and it
was great to see so many smiling faces.
Everyone again looked as though they had
stepped out of my television set. People were dressed differently, hard
to explain in which way. Even the officers on the street with their
holstered guns were fascinating. From that day on, I have adored Chicago
and have grown to love the other states too. I also quickly got over
the pain caused me by the SAS ex-husband, caused me when I realised that
I had found my partner for life. I am pleased to say I love the
American people also.
I am married and here to live now after
dealing with an Immigration Attorney, paying the money, turning up for
the appointments, etc.. and am a permanent resident. I shall take the
test and become an American Citizen after the 2016 election, and only if
Donald J. Trump is President. If we are all to have a chance of a great
future, we need Trump. So many amazing things have happened to me since
being here and with the help of Rocky I started my own company in June
2004 and in 2010, published my novel; Into the Lyons Den. Not a vanity
publisher, but with our own company.
Migraines are mostly gone with the
treatment from a chiropractor, who found I had neck vertebrae problems
due to whiplash from my past two car accidents. My under-active
thyroid is becoming stabilized, and as I said earlier, I only needed the
oestrogen to make me feel better and stop the sweats which had been
debilitating for me.
Since being here, I have already had a
radical stomach operation, in October 2004, to cure a condition called,
'Gastric Volvulus.' For years I had a stomach that revolved up under my
diaphragm. This caused me great discomfort and much pain if I could not
'massage' it back down. This, coupled with IBS, (also under control now)
had made my life very hard to cope with. (Eight months later had
another op to take out some anchor stitches that had made it difficult
for me to walk.)
Christmas 2004, was wiped out for me as I
was still at my worst then. And my poor little Ching had to be put to
sleep, due to her health failing and kidney problems on the third of
January 05. She had become so bony and the times she managed to eat was
unable to absorb nourishment from her food. I was still in severe pain
at the time. I had Ching for fourteen years and was devastated to be
without her. I spent time writing in a site finishing my novel
and working on my own website. Read my story about Ching in this site.
Click on this link:
Ching the Big Tiny Dog! (R.I.P.) 1/3/05
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Copyright © 2005 Donni-Jay De-VilleAll rights reserved and may not be reproduced in any way without permission from the author