2011 & 2012 were not the easiest years of my life. I struggled with medical and financial difficulties; came to acknowledge the dissolution of my marriage, and fought complete career paralysis. Wonderful things happened as well: I discovered new and long-dormant talents; forged some incredibly deep friendships, got away from the rabid materialism that characterised my 20s, adopted a loving dog, managed to maintain a great friendship with my ex-husband, and learned a lot about myself, my personality, and why I behave the way I do.
But in the thick of it, my automatic response to hardship and upheaval was always isolation and numbing.
I’ll be here in my corner. Go away.
I managed to keep my head above water – just barely – but I was not very optimistic about the future. My focus was generally dedicated to getting through the next day or two. By the beginning of 2013, I was ready to leave my beloved New York City and move to Michigan, where I grew up.
Then I met Tom.
It was a chance meeting through an online forum. What started as a friendly side chat quickly became flirtatious. The upside of having been thoroughly through the wringer was that I felt I really had nothing to lose. I suggested I stop by his house in Toronto as a midpoint in my move from New York to Michigan.
A month later we were engaged.
The next few months brought a kaleidoscope of emotions and attitudes — I was deliriously happy with Tom, but sometimes suspicious that the universe was playing a joke on me. One moment I’d be proud of how our respective talents complement one another; the next moment I felt utterly worthless. Living in his house in Canada made me feel like I had turned a new leaf; then my forwarded mail would arrive from the US and I’d be plunged back into the quagmire of settling medical bills and finalizing a stateside divorce.
So. Much. Happening.
We held a committment ceremony (legal marriage is a bit tied up with our immigration lawyers) in October and got comfortable in our new lives together. We juggled an insane number of pets (18 – 5 dogs, 3 cats, 4 birds, 2 turtles, 3 fish, 1 rabbit), an indecent number of lawyers, and an ailing mother (in-law); we evaluated career paths and faced financial difficulties; and most of all, we did it all while enjoying the stupefying, over-the-top love and adoration that is the hallmark of any new relationship.
One day we headed to Niagara Falls – I needed some documents verified by a US notary, and the notary at the Toronto consulate is not only 25x more expensive than a private notary, appointments are booked weeks, if not months, in advance. The 2-3 hour drive to Niagara was much easier all things considered.
We crossed into the US and got the documents notarized without fanfare, but crossing back into Canada, the Border Patrol was not so welcoming to me. As a US citizen not legally married to a Canadian resident *yet*, I was spending too much time in Canada.
“I’ll let you through this time. It’s okay to be here maybe one week out of the month,” the agent told me. “Next time you come into Canada, I need proof of income in the US, proof of residence in the US, and proof of health insurance in the US.”
I was devastated. Only one week together per month until we could get the legal marriage settled? Tom is my soul mate and Toronto had become my home. Our lawyers were advising the legal marriage was unlikely to happen before May. How on earth could I cope with this? The car ride home was a cacophany of tears and moaning.
A few weeks later, Tom drove me to my US residence in Michigan and stayed for the holidays and visits to family friends. We’ve been in different countries for about three weeks now.
Surprisingly, the earth hasn’t opened up into a firey maw to swallow either one of us whole. Is separation fun? No. Do we miss each other? Indeed.
But two very challenging years have taught me that the key to survival is keeping busy and focusing on what I can do — get my graduate school applications ready, work on projects that have been put off indefinitely, keep all the lawyers happy, look at real estate opportunities on both sides of the border. Sometimes the temptation to check out completely nags, but the desire to stay out of my own head has made me a lot more productive and efficient.
Must go onnnnn . . .
This 5 month interlude, interruption, disruption in our lives is just proof that while sometime life is kind enough to offer fairytale-esque emotions and moments, reality is always a balance of the wonderful, the okay, and the crappy. The nice thing is that the crappy usually doesn’t last and the wonderful tends to stick around.