Drum roll, please!
I choose (brace yourself): England.
Since I'm already here & they gave me citizenship and whatnot.
Earlier this year I declared that I would not spend another August in Cambridge, yet here I mysteriously remain!
That is a problem that will be rectified posthaste.
I'm not greedy. I simply require all of my wishes to come true. And, like the Kray twins, I always start as I mean to go on.
But wherever will I live next? Dual nationality means I can stay here, go home, or pick any destination I desire in the European Union.
One hint: it won't be a town nobody has ever heard of, somewhere in the hinterlands of Germany. I categorically refuse, regardless of consequence.
Though I've gotta go somewhere. Destinations in order of preference are:
Paris, Rome, Seattle, Portland, and Austin were contenders but have been eliminated from the competition for my favour. Though I promise to visit lots.
The most astonishing news of the decade: our applications were approved.
We are officially British citizens.
More notes on the continuing picaresque of The German Question:
Back in June I wrote about the fact that Byron told the potential employer he would not even consider applying for the job unless all four of us were granted permanent residency. I mentioned that, after he signed the contract, it became clear that permanent residency was more bait than promise. I wondered aloud if Prestigious Institute (PI for simplicity) had lied, reneged, or were they just unprofessional to an inconceivable degree?
I still don't know the answer, and honestly, I do not care. Residency is a fundamental requirement. End of discussion.
And anyway, there are other things to consider. For instance, while you can't really criticise an employer for ascribing to legal and cultural standards, I have just spent a year of my life trying to figure out the German health care system.
To fully describe the various complications would take too much time, and I am so disgusted I will refrain from even attempting a synopsis.
Suffice to say I was coached by insurance brokers and associated professionals to answer questions in a disingenuous manner. Repugnant, if logical. But wherever I could not be evasive, I was told to conveniently forget large portions of my history. Like the fact that I have cancer. The worst part though? Doctors and dentists who performed the examinations to certify eligibility were eminently willing to ignore, oh, you know, hundreds upon hundreds of surgical scars to sign the certificates stating that I am healthy.
There is a word for this. The word is corruption.
I do not lie, not for (as the saying goes) love nor money. Certainly not for insurance. Furthermore, to do so in this situation would be idiotic. A simple internet search would reveal this journal, the articles I have published about disability issues, the fact that I wrote a book about living with a rare genetic disorder.
However, I am willing to push a policy to the last possible border and beyond. Deny me insurance while claiming to be a fair and rational society? We'll see about that. I was not allowed to join a public plan, as a self-employed person. Then I was officially denied membership in what is perceived as the appropriate private insurance plans. But it is illegal to live in Germany without insurance. What next? I was considering a lawsuit. Such is life in Chez Lavender.
Then, lo! I figured out a tricky angle that would force a private company to take me, and was able to enrol, if at significant expense. So now I have private health insurance in Germany - a nation featuring perhaps the best care available anywhere in the world.
Though I do not feel especially proud of this, given that my stated ideal (and current reality) is living in a place where everyone has equal access to health care. Will I seriously move somewhere discrimination based on disability status is an enshrined principle?
Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Depends on what other benefits are on offer - and the Germans reneged on the promise of permanent residency.
The clock is ticking. If PI does not resolve this conundrum before a better offer comes through, I'm not moving.
Just in case you missed the point, I have a career. My job is portable in the sense that I can 'work' just about anywhere, but I am compensated for that work in traditional ways. If I freelance an article or sell a book in one country, but live in another, there are complications both in getting paid and in paying taxes for the work.
One simple example: to receive money you need a bank account. To get a bank account you need proof of residency - a visa, a permanent address. Banks and governments frown on efforts to move money across borders without sufficient documentation.
And that is just the start of the trouble. I am also compelled to pay taxes in my homeland no matter where I live, and wherever I live regardless of where I work, which requires daily notation of where I am and what I happen to be doing.
I dwelled in the United Kingdom for five excessively long years before I was able to get a bank account. I still have no pension or investments of any variety, and affordable home ownership is out of reach. Yet my savings account is clogged up with cash. Why? Because the passport and residency documents you possess actually matter. This is not a principle, this is pure pragmatism.
When Byron first outlined the plan of accepting the job with Prestigious Institute (PI for simplicity) one of my main objections was the portability or lack thereof for my career. What is the provision in Germany for self-employed people, writers, artists, freelancers? How would I (or could I) enter whatever they call their social security system - pay taxes, accumulate pensions, acquire health insurance, etc.?
The answer was: not easily, if at all.
That answer is not acceptable.
Rummaging for a solution, one of the representatives of PI suggested that the institute provide me with a cover story - a nominal fake job and salary as something or other so I could access the benefits system.
I am not chattel.
I am also not young, naive, or stupid.
While I can be flexible about where I work or live, I am rock solid about other issues. I am an adult with a well-established career. It was already a massive compromise to even consider moving to a remote German town and start the laborious process of rebuilding my professional contacts.
It is offensive to an intolerable degree to suggest I accept any further level of degradation, for any reason. To serve the career of another person?
In a word, no.
And everyone should feel relieved that my rage is limited to typing the above paragraphs.