A very good friend of mine recently said to me that I didn’t seem very excited about moving to America. I think their main concern might have been that I was having second thoughts and didn’t know how to tell anyone, it was a brave subject to bring up and I floundered though my answer. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I haven’t changed my mind, I’m not having second thoughts, I love my husband more everyday, hard as it is to have a long distance relationship. I couldn’t explain it very well to my friend, what is actually wrong with me, but it’s not the first time someone has said it to me and after thinking about it I realised that the main problem for me, is that at this point in time I don’t know I am moving to America, let alone when it might happen.
Everyone I know talks about it as a foregone conclusion, but I daren’t, I am asked almost daily if I have a date yet. Sometimes I explain that all the forms and photocopying at this point have only led to the actually visa application going in in the last month. That it can take months to be approved and even then I still have a medical examination and an interview to pass. Sometimes I just smile and say “not yet”.
My reality is that I live in a world where JT and I walk a tightrope between trying to establish (and prove) that we have a valid marriage, while at the same time not acting as if we assume that I will be given permission to enter the USA. Most people just worry about how their lives may appear on Facebook, I worry about how my life and my life since I was sixteen, years before I met JT, appears to the American Government.
I recently left my job, the commute (4 hours a day on public transport) was making me increasingly unwell (I have fibromyalgia, a chronic pain, chronic fatigue condition) and for various reasons I am in the position of having savings enough not to need to work for a couple of months, so being able to focus on the enormous To Do list of making a visa application makes sense. But I am constantly second guessing myself – the immigration website says in huge black letters that you should not do anything as permanent as giving up a job before you have been granted a visa. Surely they will see that this is practicality on my part, not arrogance? That is it hard to be disabled and be out of the house 13/14 hours a day and still have any energy for collecting a list of every address you have had since you were sixteen, filling in forms, getting hold of vaccination records, copying letters and photographs, applying for police reports?
We took tough decisions to delay the application when my father became ill. Will this seem like it what it was – an immense piece of support and understanding on the part of my husband? Or will it seem like the visa was something less important to me somehow?
JT couldn’t come to the funeral, he had been laid off since the previous October, his unemployment had run out and he was living on food stamps and what I could send him from my wages. we just didn’t have the money for the flight. Will I get the chance to explain this, or will it just seem like he didn’t care?
We haven’t visited each other in a year, we’ve had no money. I used up all my holiday visiting my father during his illness and sorting out the house afterwards. Everyone says you can enter on a visa waiver during a visa a process, but if I try and get turned away, that then counts against me in my alien spouse application. I still agonise about this as I now have the time and the money to visit, but don’t know whether to risk it. Will immigration see two people who have managed to stay in love through incredible challenges, who talk for hours every day or will they see two people that haven’t been physically together since they got married?
What makes a marriage real in the eyes of a government and how do I prove ours is real?
I miss JT, every damn second of every damn day. I worry that something will happen to him before I get there. I’m scared that a marriage on Skype might not seem enough for the immigration people. We talk for hours every day, but I miss those little touches you take for granted when you live with someone. I miss holding hands and kissing and of course I miss the sex, but the thing I miss the most is being held.
It is almost exactly 15 months today since we last held each other.
Sometime when I hug friends, I count in my head so I know when to let go in a timely manner, so I don’t cling to them like a shipwrecked sailor to the last piece of wreckage. Sometimes my good friends don’t let me let go, and for that I am immensely grateful.
I’m also sad and lonely and exhausted and I cry in secret. A lot. I hate this about myself.
I know I am not the only person apart from their loved ones, I know that I am especially privileged that I don’t have to lie awake worrying about bombs and battles, but I worry about car crashes and work accidents. I worry instead about our marriage being judged and found wanting.
I am looking at the pile of copies of photographs and letters that I have sent off as “evidence” of our marriage, which in no way define or encompass what we have and I hope it is enough.
So no, no excitement yet, hope is all I can allow myself, quiet, cautious respectful hope.
It has to be enough.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 movie directed by Terry Gilliam in which an oddball journalist and his psychopathic lawyer travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades.