Finally, the day came when I received a letter from the American Embassy in Rome with the invitation for the second and most important interview of my life. As I struggled with the English language then, I clearly understood the date and time of my interview, but I completely missed the location. Besides, I was pretty sure that there was only one location for the American Embassy in Rome and I knew where it was. But I was wrong.
The interview was scheduled for 12:00 p.m. I wanted to be collected and prepared. To eliminate any possibility of being late, I arrived at the American Embassy in Rome at 11:00 a.m. It was a sunny, beautiful, spring-like day; I lost myself for a short time (while waiting) on the fascinating streets of Rome. The sidewalk cafes were full of business people enjoying their lunch hours. I was thinking, “Is there going to be a time in my life when I, like them, can sit leisurely at a sidewalk cafe and have lunch? And feel myself as confident, relaxed, and happy as these people?” I wanted to believe that this time would eventually come during my life.
About 11:45 a.m., I returned to the American Embassy expecting to soon be called by the guard. There was a good crowd of people waiting, like me, to be called. One by one they went inside until only I was left waiting. It was after 12:00 p.m. I got anxious—I began to wonder why I was not being called. I showed my paper to the guard. He explained to me (mostly by gestures and with some Italian phrases) that my interview was in a completely different location on the other side of the city. I was shocked. First, I had no money to get a taxi. Second, I thought my life was doomed. With this realization, I stood on the curb of the street in the center of Rome and sobbed bitterly. Tears rolled down my face.
Well, the Italian people did not easily tolerate this scene. Soon enough, a taxi cab stopped by me. The driver got out of the car and asked me what had happened. Continuing to cry, I showed him my paper invitation for the interview and tried to explain to him that I had come to the wrong location. He looked at the paper and then at me and started vigorously gesticulating, pushing me inside the taxi cab. Even inside the taxi, I could not stop crying. The driver turned around to me shouting some equivalent of “Shut up” in Italian. I became quiet. I realized he was going to drive me to the address where I needed to be. While he was driving, I feverishly thought about how I would pay for my ride as I had very little money in my pocket. But I was wearing a gorgeous silver ring with a gemstone on the ring finger of my left hand. The ring was handmade with an intricate Gothic design and a big, beautiful, pink, tourmaline stone—it was my favorite ring! I bought it during my vacation in Latvia, a country on the Baltic Sea—Latvia was a part of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991. I immediately decided to pay for my ride with the ring.
We arrived at the address of the second location of the American Embassy. I paid for the ride with the ring. The grounds of the Embassy were surrounded by a high fence and the gates were closed. I was not sure how I could get inside. However, the gates opened for an incoming car and I just sneaked through the gates behind the car and ran towards the main building. I entered a room full of people waiting to be called for their interviews. My face was red, mascara smeared across my face, and my hair was messed up. Immediately, I heard my name being called. I walked into a smaller room where two men asked me questions. Then one man with reddish hair said to me how he had grown up in Buffalo, New York. He asked me if I knew how severe the winter could be in Buffalo. I said, “Probably not worse than in Siberia.” They both laughed. With this, my interview was over. From that point, I would have to wait for the Messenger at the Torvaianica square to call my name and give me an official paper with “Yes” or “No” written on it.
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