Written by: Kirsty H
Lying in my bed in Northern Ireland on a cold and frosty morning, my husband shouted up the stairs, “There’s a job listed in the Caribbean, they’re looking for a Detective Inspector. Shall I apply?”
“Aye, whatever.” I replied, thinking, Well, that will never happen…
Four months later, we packed our stuff into storage and left Belfast with four suitcases of clothes including my husband’s baton and antique truncheons, a keyboard, two guitars, a 17 year old cat, and a crazy Jack Russell terrier and headed for our new home and my husband’s third police force posting in twenty years.
For our first big leg of the journey, we flew from Dublin to NYC and stayed overnight. Out of sheer exhaustion at the quick turnover, we decided to wear the same clothes the following day because we were just flying to St. Martin. Suffice it to say, we were not smelling our freshest that morning.
At the airport, the cat and the dog suddenly realised they were going back on a plane and in a last ditch panic, decided to go to the toilet in their carriers while we were seated in the departure lounge. Now, not only did we look like tramps, but we also stunk of animal urine. Fellow passengers gave us a wide birth. One family walked past and the husband actually commented aloud to his wife, “Smell de odor!” (We still giggle about this because they’ve since become our lifelong friends, though at the time, we didn’t realise they were from our new home to be, Anguilla. Go us! How about that for making first impressions?)
Sammy cat smelled so bad, I decided to take her to the restroom and proceeded to wash her in the sink, much to the concerned looks of other passengers. But by that point, I’d lost the will to live and couldn’t really care less about the strange looks I was receiving. I just assumed my new role as Crazy Bag Lady Who Washes Her Long Suffering Cat in Airport Restrooms. This is me. Get over it.
Two of the cutest girls came up and asked me why I was washing my cat in the sink. I explained that I was moving to Anguilla, and she was old and smelly. They were so excited to hear this because they, too, lived in Anguilla. They took it upon themselves to inform me that people in Anguilla do not wash their cats in the sink. Thank you. Noted. They ran outside to tell their dad. Initially, he looked a little concerned because he had smelt us earlier and didn’t want his children talking to a bag lady in the toilet, so we passed pleasantries together and made our separate ways.
Once again seated in the departure lounge, we overheard TSA repeatedly putting out an announcement, paging someone named Kristy. I’m Kirsty and do not usually answer to Kristy, though after the sixth time of hearing the same unanswered page, we thought we had better go and see if it was me they were calling for. Sure enough, we were met by the Head of the TSA, a police sergeant, and two police officers who confirmed in a serious manner that they were indeed looking for me.
My husband, as it turns out, had kindly packed his police truncheons and baton in my suitcase. As a result, I was informed that in the State of NYC, it is a criminal offense to be in possession of these items. I was in big trouble.
To say I nearly vomited on the spot is an understatement. Though it was a simple enough explanation (They’re not mine, they’re my husband’s!), all of the stress of our journey thus far came bubbling to the surface. I sat down and started to cry. “Am I going to be banned from ever entering the U.S. again?!” I interspersed my panicked questions with apologies for reeking of cat wee.
The U.S. Officials stared at me, looking perplexed and probably wondering if they should have called out the emergency psychiatrist instead. While I wailed, my husband scuffled off to grab the paperwork that would prevent me from being carted out of the airport.
Now, when I tell this story about my arrest, this is the part where my husband always interjects and says,” You were not read your rights or handcuffed, so you were not arrested!”
To which I reply, “Don’t ruin my story.” That’s the life of being married to a cop. They always get you with legal technicalities.
Thankfully, once the correct paperwork was shown to the Police and the TSA, the report was written off. (I can confirm that I’m still allowed to legally enter the United States – whew!) As they were waving us off, avoiding our odor by not standing downwind, the sergeant mentioned that he collected stamps and didn’t have any from Anguilla. Yeah, stamps. I’ll get right on that.
Finally we boarded the flight (though sadly, without Xanax). If this journey was any indication of the adventure that lie ahead of us in our new island life, boy, was I in for it.
On arrival, the doors opened, and we were met by the signature Caribbean heat.
Welcome to your new life. You made it.