Bureaufrenzy: A Trip to the Embassy in Paris

If you’re wondering why the blog has been so quiet as of late, the last couple of months have been very, very difficult in so many ways, but I’m finally starting to feel de-traumatized and able to process everything Stuart and I have been through. Here’s one story that happened at the end of July…

The sale of my house, which I wrote about in other posts, was set to close on July 28th. Stuart and I had been talking about what to do if anything went wrong and the sale fell through. Since I was in default simply for no longer living in the house, if it didn’t sell, I would be facing foreclosure. We decided that, should that be the case, it would be best for me to return to the states.

Now, I just happened to have a return flight as part of a round-trip ticket…just in case. This flight was for July 31st, about a week before my visa would be up and just enough days after the closing to know whether or not I’d need to use it. Here’s what happened…

With the days ticking away, the Thursday before the closing, I was told that documents were being mailed overnight which would need to be notarized. Hmm…so much for closing Monday. That’s not so good, thinks I. Where will I find an English-speaking notary in the country, let alone someone to translate all the documents so quickly? The good news is that before I left the US, I gave my sister power of attorney. I could just have everything sent to her and signed on my behalf. Easy! Problem solved!

Not so fast. The lawyer then thought to ask if I was married. She informed me that according theĀ  state law, Stuart would then also have to sign the documents. Great. That meant everything would indeed need to be sent to France for us to sign. We should have everything by Friday…or was it Saturday? I can’t remember. So, our next step was to make an appointment at the US Embassy in Paris, a five-hour drive. We learned that they handle notarizations there. Appointments must be made online, and while they had appointments, they were all after the new closing date of the house and the date of my return flight…July 31st. This also happened to be the last date the buyer’s would have funding. Talk about a pressure-cooking experience! I emailed the embassy requesting an emergency notarization wondering whether we’d hear anything before the weekend.

So, while we “waited to see” on that, we tried to find another alternative. We visited the local mairie (like a mayor, basically), but they explained they couldn’t witness our signatures without knowing what we were signing and hence we were back to needing expensive translations.

Fortunately, the consulate came through with an emergency appointment on the following Monday in the morning. In the morning? With a five-hour drive? Thus began the search for relatively inexpensive accommodations in Paris. If we arrived Sunday, we could figure out where we needed to be the following morning and also plot out our journey to the nearest Fed Ex so we could mail everything immediately. We were feeling pretty good until the confirmation email from the embassy arrived stating that anyone not named on the appointment would not be allowed to enter. I had no idea about this and had made the appointment in my name only. My only option was to email the embassy and add Stuart to the appointment crossing our fingers it wasn’t too late, seeing as it was the weekend and the appointment was first thing Monday. If it was too late, we’d be going to Paris for nothing. And boy, would I have fun explaining that to my realtor. Fortunately again, we received confirmation from the embassy. I have to say, I was impressed.

So off we went to Paris. We found a nice AirB&B apartment to stay in. We figured out the metro, found everything, got our papers signed, made copies of everything and had it all in the mail by late afternoon Monday. Time to breathe! I don’t think I’d taken in any oxygen since the preceding Friday.

Now, Stuart and I had been discussing the new closing date and my return ticket July 31st and whether I should still go back or what. If anything happened and the house didn’t close, I’d need to go back anyway. Did we really want to buy another ticket if that happened? Besides, at this point, we’d been talking about all the difficulties we were facing in France and whether or not we really saw ourselves living there long-term. We spent the remaining few days deliberating this very difficult decision. In the end, my bags were packed, and I’d be returning to the states to petition for Stuart’s immigration.

The morning of the new closing date, the same morning of my flight, leaving my beloved behind for an unknown period of separation, going to I didn’t even know where with my five suitcases, I got an email from my realtor. Due to a mathematical error, instead of walking away with $1500, I would actually owe money at the closing. EXCUSE ME? AND YOU’RE TELLING ME THIS NOW??? Needless to say, at this point, I was a nervous wreck with no remaining mental capacity to think straight. I replied with a rather acidic email, and to my realtor’s credit, he did the right thing and gave me a credit. To top it off, it turned out that the bank had miscalculated also, and that I had paid off more than they realized. So I ended up making more than I originally thought.

Can you hear the rattling marbles in my head?

Oh,but the fun didn’t stop there. But I’ll leave the story of leaving France for another time.