I’ve had a few people request that I do an open-ended “ask me anything” series on Wholefully. So, here it is! You’ll see me answering a reader question each week. Submit your questions by e-mailing me or commenting on this post. If you want to be identified in my answer, include your name and website (if applicable).
Literally, ask me anything. I’ll answer anything!*
*Okay, maybe not anything, but almost anything.
You can see previous AMA responses here.
Shocked enough for any fear-of-authority to fade away, I immediately snapped, “Well, what are we supposed to do?”
Unphased by a 22-year-old girl snapping at him, the immigration officer sighed lightly and said to us, “Do you love each other and want to be together?”
We nodded our heads furiously.
“Then here are your options. You (a) get married and get a marriage visa or (b) get engaged and get a fiance visa. You can find information about these online. Here is my card and you are welcome to call me if you have any questions, but for now, he has to go back to Canada.”
We walked back to the car in silence, turned around, made our way back through the Canadian border crossing and immediately pulled into the parking lot of the Ontario Welcome Center on the other side of the border. I put the car into park and burst into tears.
I was crying for so many reasons. I was crying because I was mad—we were well within the law and we’re being treated like criminals. I was crying because I was sad—we were ready to really start our relationship. I was crying because I wasn’t ready to get married—and apparently that was our only option.
Once I composed myself, we drove the 45 minutes back to Babyface’s parents’ house and spread the news. I felt an overwhelming amount of shame. Stupid girl. Thinking the world is just handed to her. Thinking that if you are nice and honest everything will go your way. Thinking that love conquers all.
Once back into Babyface’s room, we talked about what we were going to do short-term. I decided that I would take another (unpaid) day off of work and I would stay the rest of the day and then leave the next. Without Babyface. And then we’d figure it out from there.
We tried to enjoy our last day together, but it was difficult considering there was no real resolution about what would happen after I drove away. We were right back to where we were when we ended our first meeting, except now I was the one driving away. If we couldn’t be together in person, how could we possibly figure out if this was the real deal? Regardless of technology and airplanes, what kind of relationship could we have from 1,000 miles away?
I left in the morning after a tear-filled good-bye. When I crossed back into the U.S., the same immigration guard was working and he asked to search my car. I mostly think he just wanted to talk. He told me he was sorry and could see how devastated we were, but he just couldn’t let Babyface in. He reminded me to look at the marriage visas and sent me on my way. I have dealt with a TON of border guards in my years crossing back and forth, and I can safely say that the man who refused Babyface entry was one of the nicest. I’m glad he was. I can’t imagine how painful it would have been dealing with an asshole.
I cried for at least the first 100 miles of the drive. Being alone in a car, for a 18 hour road trip after a major emotional trauma is not a good place to be. I thought my mind spiraled out of control after our first visit—it was on a whole new level in that little black car driving through the Upper Midwest.
Beyond the emotional damage, I was flat-out exhausted. The drive back couldn’t have been more different from the drive there. To say it was dangerous would be an understatement. I was seeing double, falling asleep at the wheel, and at-one-point, pulling over ever 15 minutes to wake myself up. All I wanted was to get home to my bed, my pillow, my parents, where everything was safe and normal.
I made it home, physically unscathed, and tumbled into bed.
The next morning, I called into work and realized I had to deal with the broken dreams. I had rented an apartment thinking it’d be “ours” and now had to make the move by myself. My parents kept asking me if I still wanted to move out, they were fine with me staying, but I insisted that I wanted my own place. I can now tell you, it was 99% out of pride and stubbornness. I refused to accept failure, and breaking that lease and staying with my parents was admitting that my relationship with Babyface had failed.
So I moved into a ridiculously crappy apartment. It suddenly seemed a lot more crappy now that Babyface wasn’t there with me.
The next few weeks were really uneventful, actually. I went to work. I came home to my crappy one bedroom. I had no cable or internet so my entertainment would be talking to Babyface on the phone for 4-6 hours every night.
We chatted (not-so-seriously) about the visas the immigration officer mentioned to us. Neither of us were ready to get married. Especially not to someone we’d only spent 6 days with in person.
What Babyface didn’t know was that I was doing serious research on the marriage visas. Reading the timelines. The costs. The complications. The process. It wasn’t as easy as they make it seem in Hollywood. You don’t get handed a green card with your marriage certificate. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to do it now, but I wanted to know the information for the future. I was pretty sure this relationship was forever and that immigration would be something we’d have to tackle at some point.
We started to plan our next visit, I’d come up for my birthday in the middle of June. It was obvious we wanted to be together long-term, but we avoided the topic of how. We kind of just coasted along. Focusing on the next visit. Avoiding the giant elephant in the room that was screaming about how this is no way to exist.
And then, one warm summer night at the beginning of June, I was relaxing in my bed, talking to Babyface on the phone, missing him so much that I felt like my skin was burning, and I made the decision.
It was actually really clear once all the pieces came together in my mind. We loved each other. We wanted to be together. And the only way we could be together was to get married. Suddenly, in my mind, marriage was no longer about romance, white dresses or registries. Marriage was a piece of paper that could get us what we both wanted. Marriage was paperwork, red tape, a hoop to jump through.
Once I tossed away my preconceived notions of what marriage should be, I made the decision. We needed to get married.
This thought process zoomed through my brain in about 12 seconds. It wasn’t thought-through. I barely finished connecting my mental dots before I said what was on my mind.
“I think we should fill out our paperwork for the fiance visa.”
And then he laughs a little and says, “Uh, did you just propose to me?”
“I guess I did.”
And we were engaged. After only spending 6 days together.
to be continued . . .