Sunday, August 20, 2006

Between a rock and... Well, another rock...


To all those people who've ever claimed that American's don't understand it, I'd like to direct them towards the Department of Homeland Security.

You see, T and I have been waiting for almost three years for our permission to go back. For an awfully long time, we'd put our lives on hold thinking that it was just around the corner. For the first year of our marriage, she lived in New York and I lived in France because we seriously believed it would only be a few months before it got processed.

Eventually, after I'd worked my last summer in Paris, reality took hold. It'd been six months since we'd been promised our visa would be processed (within six months.) Both of us were fed up with the way things were going, so we decided to be together. Hence, we arrived in Winchester and life came banging on our door.

From day one, we thought everything would be short term. We told our landlord we'd probably only be there six months. I stressed about telling WinFM I was looking for a career when I'd originally envisioned just a few months flogging spots. Tina started off at the Hampshire Chronicle thinking that we'd be back in America before we had time to settle in.

But life didn't work like that. The Immigration Authorities lost our visa. They found it again. They sent it to Missouri. Then they sent it to Paris.

After a short while, T and I just got to the stage where we thought it would never happen. And, without thinking about it, our lives began.

Now, two years later, we're both stressing about leaving.

I've just started work at Gcap Ideas. I'm the creative writer for Hampshire. I write radio commercials that go out on the airwaves to over a million people. Apart from periods during my association with Summer Study, I've never felt as content and excited about a job as I do at the moment - and I've only been there for a month.

Tina writes columns in the Hampshire Chronicle. She's also the Head Receptionist, which means she's pretty much the face of Winchester's newspaper. In the last two years, she's enjoyed opportunities she'd never have had in the states.

All in all, life is good and to a huge extent, I've found the contentment I was looking for.

And now, just as all is settled, we get a letter from the United States saying we can go back to America.

Now that's great. Even if we stayed in England, we wanted to go back for Thanksgivings and Birthdays. To see Tina's family. And now we can.

Except, like so much in life, it's not that simple.

You see, now the United States has decided that Tina and I can go back to America, there are certain... Stipulations.

We have to return to America within the next six months. And when we do go back, I get stopped at the border, 'processed' and given instructions to remain until I get my Permanent Residence Card - my Green Card.

That could take six months.

When I've got that little card, I can come and go as I want for the rest of my life. But until then, I'm exiled (or imprisoned) in the United States.

It's a situation Tina and I can't quite get our heads around.

We love America. We want to go back. It's certainly where I see us making a life for ourselves... But we hadn't quite seen us making it this soon.

I wanted another year in Creative, so I can go back to America and get a job doing what it is I love. Tina wanted another year with NewsQuest and then she can go back to America and have access to job's aplenty with the Gannet Group.

It's just so ironic. We'd waited so long for this stupid stamp in my passport and now we've got it, we're scared of going back.

I know it may sound ridiculous. Like; "what are we complaining about?"

But here it is. We're both upset because it seems like the US Government had expected us both to put our lives on hold - totally- for three years while their pen pushers and desk jockeys got their act together. If we'd done what they'd expected us to do, Tina would still be waiting tables and I'd still be writing dirty stories for Hustler. But the fact is, we've grown and evolved and we're both different people from who we were when this process started.

I look at that VISA in my passport and see somebody completely alien to me. Somebody I was three years ago.

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