Whilst at the police station being fingerprinted by a lovely officer of the law on Tuesday, (more of that in a moment!) he joked that the 'A' in USA actually stands for 'anxiety'. It's a fitting acronym, because there are checks for EVERYTHING here. This week has combined my two great loves: admin and going to the doctor (note sarcasm) - all part of my extremely convoluted pathway back into employment. The checklist is pretty exhaustive, and includes fingerprinting (see above), TB screening and much form -filling. All of which caused me a fair bit of anxiety of my own.
As a child of the 70s, I vividly recall the TB vaccination. I particularly remember it because it was the one that went septic! Many of us walked round sporting enormous pus-filled blisters on our upper arms for weeks afterwards and now carry the tell-tale scar to prove it. So I'm fairly confident that I'll pass this particular test.
The fingerprinting was fairly painless too, although for some reason, I couldn't help but feel inexplicably guilty as you place your fingers, one by one, on the electronic reader. I was half expecting some alarm to go off. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and the officer let me leave the building.
I did wonder how this process of incessant checks and screening would play out in England. Other than the usual background checks and references, I've never been screened/tested for anything. In an era of endless budget cuts, I can't imagine anyone in the UK - local councils, schools or businesses- wanting to incur the cost of so many layers of bureaucracy.
There was also a fair bit of anxiety this week around saying goodbye to Son#1. After eight weeks of having Team Gibbs together, we're now back to just the three of us and will remain so for the next 20 weeks. I was given strict instructions by Son#1: DO NOT CRY AT THE AIRPORT! Apparently it stresses him out and last time I was a 'hot mess'. It's true, I did lose all dignity when we packed him off back to the UK after his first visit in March. This time, we tried the 'drop and run' approach rather than the protracted tearful goodbyes at the gate - so we unloaded him on the curb outside departures and made a speedy getaway. I didn't cry, but he did have to prise my fingers open to get me to let go of him.
To be honest, I've been worrying about how I'll cope now he's gone. Seven months into our Chicago adventure and the homesickness is stubbornly resistant to any attempt to beat it into submission. Combine this with the thought of the longest separation from our firstborn to date and I'm on my way to being a hot mess again. I may not have wept at the airport, but I sobbed all the way home, sniveled whilst I cooked dinner and got ridiculously teary over Son#1's forgotten pants and a dirty footprint he'd left by the back door!
Still, it's not been all tears and anxiety this week. We had a visitor from home, on an overnight business trip. He arrived with half of his hand luggage stuffed full of the weekend editions of English newspapers. I'm going to eek them out over the next month and spend every Saturday morning reading about Brexit, rising interest rates and the continuing heatwave and lack of air conditioning. Perhaps this will be a fitting antidote to the homesickness.
I'm going back to the doctor this afternoon to get my official all clear from TB for my employer. I was injected on Tuesday and I've had no reaction - no rash, redness or blisters. If only I could apply this to the airport drop-offs - no tears, sniveling or sobbing. I think I'm a way off from that yet and I'm glad they don't have a screening test for homesickness, because I'm pretty sure I'd fail. But for today, all I have to worry about in the United States of Anxiety is TB or not TB... that is the question.