Sunday, June 23, 2013

You can have your butterflies. I have fireflies.

A little tale: I remember going to a family friend's cabin when I was around three years old. It was the first time I'd ever seen fireflies. I called them lightning bugs. I remember watching them blinking on and off, filled with a strange and simple kind of excitement and awe.

Twenty years passed.

I didn't see another lightning bug again until I went to Bonnaroo in 2010. The same feeling came back to me as if I was still a little girl, watching from inside the cabin.

Now, almost every night when I walk through my neighborhood, I see lightning bugs. I still feel the magic I did when I was three, now that I'm almost 27 (one more week!).

It's strange how such a simple thing can bring one immediately back to "the now."

I am so grateful for my life. I'm not religious, but I'm convinced that I'm blessed.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why we got married, but y'all didn't get invited

I've sat in a spot like the one I'm sitting in now, trying to write this blog post, for quite a while (like, off and on for the past four months exactly). I couldn't decide where to start, but then, while I was walking home yesterday, it came to me (shout out to Bob Babinski who always encouraged walks, noting that walking provides the perfect breeding ground for good ideas).

So, here it goes.

Like most couples, we had been planning on getting married for a little over a year. So, why didn't we send out invites? Well, ours was not your typical engagement (much like the rest of our story).

It all goes back to when we first began getting to know one another. We were both thrilled and relieved to find out that neither of us wanted to get married (ever - not just to the other person). Matt's mother couldn't believe it - nor did she want to. Most parents dream of the perfect day their first-born son will eventually have with his bride walking down the aisle - and Matt's mom was no different - but with me in the picture, none of that would be realized. Matt and I, on the other hand, could not have been more elated.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2011.

We'd been dating long distance for about a year and a half. Like any couple, we went through our share of struggles and difficulties, mostly due to us being apart more than we were together, but every time we talked and every time we were together, we knew the distance was worth it.

I tried, but had exhausted all possible routes for getting my U.S. permanent residence through my family. I even looked into getting a temporary work visa, hoping for anything that would allow us to be together without having to get married, but I kept coming up dry.

Finally, a couple of days after the New Year, a few days before I was set to go back to Montreal, we had "the talk."

Don't think that this is where the story gets to romancin', because it's not.

We spoke almost vaguely to one another, trying to get to the point without actually saying any of the "panic words" (married, engaged, etc.).

I recall the end of our conversation specifically:

"I don't want to be long distance for the rest of my life."
"Well, I'm willing to do whatever it takes for us to be together."
"So... Are we fuckin' doing this?"
"Yep. We're doing this."

(Sorry for the profanity - you can take the girl out of Nova Scotia, but you can't take the Nova Scotia out of the girl.)

Although we were both relieved that we were willing to make a such major sacrifice so that we could be together, the next year couldn't have been much more stressful.

My grandmother passed away, I was diagnosed with PCOS, a crazy bitter girl attempted to sabotage our relationship (we showed her!), I was finishing an 11-month intensive graduate program, Matt had started at a new university, I went away to Trois-Rivieres for five weeks for French immersion school then started a job at the Montreal Gazette (read: no vacation days), and Matt accepted a new a full-time job while he continued to study full-time. And to add insult to injury, we were going through the FiancĂ©e Visa application process with U.S. Customs and Immigration, which - as anyone who has gone through it will tell you - is one of the most stressful, emotional and expensive experiences a couple can endure. Talk about putting our love to the test.

During the 12 months between when we decided to "submit our paperwork" (that's what we called it while we got comfortable with the "M"-word) and when I finally got the stamp of approval from the U.S. Embassy in Montreal, Quebec, we had submitted stacks of paperwork with evidence of our relationship, criminal records, financial records, medical records, and photos; I'd received the flu shot, MMR shot, Td shot and had been tested for TB; and we wrote multiple checks (or "cheques" in "Canadian") for processing fees of all kinds. We traveled across the border countless times, and spoke often about how great life would be once we didn't need to show a passport to see one another. But neither of us wanted to tell anyone about our decision, in case for some freak reason our application got denied. It was almost as if we didn't want to jinx it.

In November 2012, we decided the stress of waiting to be together was too much, and after Matt's mom offered for me to stay in their family home for an indefinite period of time, I crossed the border alone for one of the last times.

I had to travel back to Montreal one more time for my immigration interview, which was scheduled for January 24, 2013. That's when shit got real. Matt half-joked that we should get married on Valentine's day (he's such a cheeseball), but we just wanted to have a Town Hall wedding, and Town Hall only did marriages on Wednesdays (Valentine's Day was on a Thursday).

We put our planning on a bit of a hold when I left for Montreal, but then, finally, at around 11:00 a.m. on January 24 I heard seven of the most glorious words: "Welcome to the United States of America."

When I got back to New Jersey, Matt's parents demanded that we make some plans. His mom said we needed to have a dinner at the very least, to celebrate with his family. In our usual fashion, we didn't want anything to do with it, but when his dad started getting invested in the planning (he doesn't usually involve himself in anything like this), I caved and Matt followed suit.

So knowing we wanted to get married on Valentine's Day, Matt's dad - a life-long Livingston town employee - pulled some strings and within a few days we went from having a Town Hall wedding on some random Wednesday to being married by the Mayor of Livingston at the Art Council of Livingston Art Gallery in town center on Valentine's Day. Whodathunkit?

So, if you feel offended, shafted or put-off because you weren't invited to our wedding, don't. We didn't want to get married to begin with anyway (even though now we're a blissfully, disgustingly happy married couple who can't imagine being anything less).

And if ya don't know, now ya know...