I feared marriage would take that which what was once a continuous choice to be together and diamond-ring it into an obligation. After all, too often those we love the most we take for granted the most. Being together as boyfriend and girlfriend seemed a more deliberate, thoughtful approach to a long-term relationship than letting tax filing and health care eligibility incarcerate Camelot by gettin’ hitched. But immigration demanded we put a ring on it and so, quite honestly, did some hard-to-define romantic notion we shared. JD and I were wed –beautifully, wonderfully – after 12 happy unofficial years togeth-o under our belt. That marriage license has proved its weight in gold in paragliding JD o’er the border. Progressive as we Americans may seem as the first world leader, we’re really not. Those dozen years spent in love and in dedicated relationship held a twig to the boy scout campfire one piece of marriage license paper wielded.
Turns out, I’m happy to be married to my forever-love. I’m happier that my forever-love is coming in less than a week. Less than six days, Interveb! We had a nonchalant goodbye at the airport, naively believing that immigration would follow the timeline it set forth in its own documents. Now, three and a half months later, I get to really, actually see my husband! Like an overprotective, rifle collecting father, the United States government has deemed my husband worthy of actually being in the same country as me.
Being close is cool. Suddenly I can chat in the evening when it’s also the evening for family and friends gathered together today to celebrate us all being in the U S of Blessed A. Suddenly West Coast chums are watching the sun go down just as I am, even if it’s from California instead of Washington.
I’ve heard before that travel makes the world seem smaller. Maybe it’s my years of travel that make me giddy to be so close with those I love who are still not actually here in my new state.
Last week JD left Vietnam. In many ways it feels like the final curtain call on our time in Da Nang. When I left, it was a certain close of a chapter. But, he carried on our connection to our fun, fancy-free and sometimes (fabulously?) dysfunctional life there. When he left, we really, actually left. And I really, actually moved here.
It’s a bit sad. And a bit happy.
Woohoo to you, America! You let a good one in. I’m grateful and giddy for your decision (really). And you were so gracious and accommodating about the whole process (not). Anyhoo, JD has his Green Card and that’s all that matters for the moment.
And so, what does this bright-eyed, bushy tailed new American resident have to look forward to here in the Pacific Northwest? Let’s find out.
All my energy is spent on New. New students, new environment, new friends. The New is intriguing and necessary. But at this particular moment of lull, it’s the old and taken-for-granted which grabs my interest. In my current obsession with New I don’t want to leave out learning more about that which has become recently Old.
I read somewhere that long-distance couples often fight just before one of them is about to leave. Sort of a self-preservation thing or preference to feeling angry instead of sad. Vietnam and I were doing that, I thought. What with all the cockroaches, cheeky geckos, broken house appliances going on I was sure he was trying to pick a fight. But seems he’s reconsidered his strategy. Now that our departure date nears Vietnam is pulling out all the stops to make sure I miss him.
As if reminding me of his beauty while hosting guests and traveling around weren’t enough, he’s managed to make the weather cooler than normal. I love him all the more. And I’m all the more reminded of how bad I’ve been to him. I moved here to be with him, but I have not done it gracefully.
I am a bad immigrant.
Won’t You Be My Neighbo(u)r?
Hello there, friendly future neighbor! We’re the new immigrants in town. One of us anyway, the other has just been away awhile. We may dress funny. We may talk wrong. We may eat foods with chopsticks and even throw “u”s into your well-established alphabet. But we are just people. We know we’re different. We know we’re not from here. We know we have an accent. Pointing it out is as redundant as saying ATM Machine. So please, help us help you. Want to get to know us? Great! But please actually get to know us as friends, not as a sparkle at your next cocktail (or karaoke) party.
Here are the top 10 questions immigrants are asked (and may be sick of answering):
The nomadic daughter is returning. Sort of. Though I’ll still be a four-hour flight away from my family, purple mountain majesty lies ahead. This move has had more planning and paperwork than any of our others. But after a year of hoop hopping and other cliché rigmarole, JD’s card is now almost Green and so’s his horn. African in tow, I’m coming back, America.
We want this and have worked for it and paid a pretty US penny for it. Even still, it’s bittersweet. Not just leaving Vietnam and our friends, but also leaving a particularly ear-perking noun. I will no longer be an ex-pat (big hat immigrant, if you will). Soon I’m just a regular old pat.
Many Americans have a soundtrack for Vietnam in mind. The songs popular with soldiers in the war – and popular in movies about soldiers in the war – talk about peace, frustration and, primarily, change. Like a rolling stone, I moved here to watch every season turn, turn, turn and further wonder what war is good for. And in my half decade in Vietnam, I’ve found a playlist about change to be perfectly fitting.