Archive for June, 2011

Waleska (Germany) and Fabienne (US)

Posted on June 13, 2011. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , |

I want to start by saying this is probably one of the worst and best times in my life.

Last time I told you we were trying to figure out what to do to renew
Fabienne’s visa so she can stay longer. We decided to take another road-trip to
Canada. This time to Cranbrook. I asked Fabienne when was the day her visa
expired. She told me the date without looking at her passport. I asked her
again, Are you sure? and she said yes. So we plan the trip for a day before her
visa expired. We put our things in the car, and Dude’s (my dog) and left. It
was a beautiful day and we were having fun driving. For some weird reason I was
very confident that everything was going to be ok like the last time.

We were at the Canadian border. They asked us for our passports. We waited
anxiously in the car. The officer comes back and says: we can’t let you go to
Canada because her visa is one day late and we are not sure if the USA will let
her go back. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I told them we thought her
visa expired the day after. They told us to park the car and to come inside. So
we go inside and she showed us the date in the visa and yes, we were late for a
few hours. I looked at Fabienne. I proceeded to try to persuade the Canadian
border officer to let us go in Canada, I knew if we were sent to USA part there
might be trouble. But she said: I can’t let you go in Canada, you need to go
back to the USA and talk to the border officer and make sure the paperwork is
correct then you can come back. So we get in the car. I looked at Fabienne and
asked her: why you told me that we were one day early? she said she got
confused by the date since they read dates differently than in the USA. I told
her that was a big mistake and that I wish I would have looked at her visa. I
also told her, don’t worry they probably just let us go because we are late
just for hours. Inside of me I knew we were screwed but I was trying to calm
her down cause I know she gets really nervous. Her fate was in hands of the
Border Patrol officer. I was hoping we would get a good one but that was not
the case.

So we are now in the line for the US border. They asked us for our passports
and the reason why we were there. I told them that the Canadian side sent us
back to make sure she can come back to the USA. They noticed her visa was late.
The officer asked us to wait that he needed to talk to someone about it. He
came back and said: please park your car and come inside. Then the interrogation
began. I have never seen Fabienne so nervous. They asked her all kinds of
questions. Why was she trying to go to Canada? Why she was in the USA? Where
was staying at? What is her relationship with me? How is she supporting
herself? Was she trying to go to Canada to renew her US visa? Does she have a
plane ticket back to Germany? etc… They asked me a few questions as well.
There were three officers. 2 of them were not so hardcore but there was one
just trying to get any possible reason to deport Fabienne. First I thought it
was completely unfair that they did not provide her with a translator. They
were asking her all these technical questions that she had no idea what it
meant. Then they took her to a separate room and asked me to wait outside. I
knew this was bad. They asked me to search my car. I told them my dog is inside
and they said just bring your dog with you. So I did. They searched everything
and then left a huge mess for me to put back together. Fabienne was still
inside and I had no access to her. Hours passed and passed and passed. almost 5
or 6 hours later an officer came outside and told me that she could not prove
she had plane tickets to go back to Germany and that she was going to get
deported. I started crying like a little girl. I could not belive this was
happening. This was the worst that could happen…and it was happening. They
told me all kinds of lies. They said the same thing happened to another German
person a few weeks ago and he was back in the USA. They told me not to worry
but they had to do this and that she was going to be able to come back. I have
never had any kind of experience with this kind of situation. I had no idea
what to do.

Finally around 8 or 9 hours later they said I could see her before they will transfer
her to a jail. I asked why they are taking her to a jail. She is not a criminal
i said. They told me that was procedure and they did not have special place for
people getting deported. I started crying even more. They told me to wait
outside until they bring her out. He also told me that she was going to be
wearing handcuffs and leg cuffs while in the cop car as procedure but that they
knew she was not a criminal. I was in shock. I could not believe they were
doing this to her. They told me I could say goodbye to her and that I could
visit her in the jail which was going to be in Kalispell. I asked them how long
were they going to keep her in jail. They said that just a few days until they
get the plane tickets and all the procedure done. So they bring her outside and
let her smoke a cigarette with me while we say goodbye. I told her I would go
visit her and do everything I can to help her. She was very scared. We were
both crying. In fact i am crying right now just remembering this horrible time
in our life. I could not believe my country was doing this to her. I found out
how unfair and broken our immigration system is the hard way and so did she.
Please take a look for the rest of our story on my blog, Bi-cultural love and
immigration laws
on Squidoo. (photo; personal; Waleska and Fabienne;
“Fabienne and me in Germany”)

This story is
located at: http://imeq.us/our_stories/stories.html

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Susan (US) and Antien (Holland)

Posted on June 13, 2011. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , , |

I moved to Amsterdam in 1998 from New York City to be with Antien, my partner now for nine
years and the love of my life. Excuse me for gushing right off the bat, but
true love is hard to find, and sharing my life with her renews, delights and
amazes me.

I met Antien on December 31, 1989 at a New
Year’s Eve party in Brooklyn, New York. Our hosts invited the assembled guests
to express themselves on the occasion of the demise of the 1980s. Cast your
mind back – we’d just been through eight years of ketchup as a vegetable. It
was a decade when image triumphed over substance again and again, and most of
us were relieved to bid it adieu. Antien’s contribution was a modern dance
improvisation. She had recently graduated from the Rotterdam Dance Academy and
was in New York to study in the Merce Cunningham studio. She moved that evening
with a dramatic, theatrical intensity that riveted me to my seat. I couldn’t
take my eyes off her. She was so “out there” that it almost hurt to
watch. I was a complete dance novice then, and I wasn’t sure what she intended
to say about the 1980s, but whatever it was, it got my attention!

I think I loved her from the moment I laid
eyes on her, but we were friends for a period of years before I acknowledged to
myself – and to her – that I was in love. I bared my heart to her in 1993, and
we have never looked back.

By that time, of course, Antien had returned
to her native Holland. I knew I was in love, but could I actually uproot myself
to move to a new land in mid-life? Could I leave my friends, my community, my
professional life? I wasn’t sure, and so Antien and I conducted a long-distance
relationship between New York and Amsterdam for five years. [No one has ever
called me impulsive.] Fortunately, her work as a dance teacher gave her the
summers off, and my employers in a small consulting firm in New York were
sensitive to my situation. Still, for five years, we never spent more than two
consecutive months together, and probably saw each other for no more than four
months out of every year. Missing her was one of the keenest, sharpest pains I
have ever felt.

When we were together, we fantasized about
what it would be like to share a daily life, to wake up in the same bed, to
tell each other our stories at the end of the day. Just being together – what
so many couples take for granted – seemed almost unimaginable. When we parted
at Schiphol or JFK, we cried our eyes out. When we were reunited, it was
sweeter than sweet. We had a spirited, old-fashioned pen and paper
correspondence. We spent a fortune on plane tickets and phone calls.

After five years of travelling back and
forth, I decided I was ready to move to Amsterdam, a city I had grown to love.
I had lived in New York for 11 years, and I felt ready to trade in that crazy
human carnival for a city on a more human scale. I was certainly ready to be
with Antien, but being ready didn’t make it any less wrenching to leave my home
and my friends. I sorted, packed and divested. I gave up my apartment and all
of my furniture. I gave away my appliances, my television, even my desk. I gave
away hundreds of books, and put hundreds more into storage. I found homes for
my two cats. I arranged to work freelance via the Internet for my company in
New York. I borrowed a friend’s car and made a ten-day road trip to Boston and
western Massachusetts, my two other previous homes in adulthood, to say those
good-byes.

The opportunity to start “anew” in
mid-life was a gift for me. I arrived in Amsterdam when I was nearly 40, and I felt
that I was starting fresh: free, unburdened, eyes wide open. Like the first day
of school.

My life in Amsterdam is rich and growing,
and I am grateful for it. I love riding a bicycle everywhere. I love living in
a city that is just so damned cute. Getting acquainted with a new culture is
endlessly fascinating (and occasionally vexing). Making new friends reminds me
that everyday of our lives is a new act of creation. The language…now that has
been a struggle. Learning Dutch has been completely humbling, particularly for
a perfectionistic verbal person like me. I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve my
goal of speaking with effortless mastery, but I now speak with reasonable
competence. And I’m learning to let that be good enough, for now. Making a
second language my own has been, in many ways, like all good process projects,
its own reward.

But I also gave up much to be here. When
people ask me what I miss most, I joke and say half-and-half in my coffee. I do
miss half-and-half, but of course I miss people the most. Sometimes I ache for
the friends who have known me 15, 20, even 25 years. That kind of intimacy,
that kind of deep knowing, is irreplaceable. I see family in California at most
once a year, my nieces and nephews are growing half a world away, and that is
also a loss. I spend considerable time and resources every year travelling back
to the US to maintain my relationships and connections there.

I don’t know if Antien and I would choose to
live in the United States now if we could – Dubya is making this a particularly
easy time for me, personally, to be an expatriate – but the point is, we don’t
have the choice. The Netherlands recognizes our relationship and welcomes me as
her partner, and in the United States our commitment to each other has no standing.

Even my closest friends and family regard my
decision to move here as a choice, which in a way, of course, it was. I think
of it as a choice, too. No one held a gun to my head. But it was not an
entirely free choice. I think of it as a compelled choice. If I wanted to have
a daily life with Antien, it was the only choice I had. Does one option
constitute a choice? The longer I am here, the more it sinks in: I may call
Amsterdam home for the rest of my life because my own country doesn’t, can’t,
won’t see me.

– Susan

Susan posted this story at the following
URL: http://loveexiles.org/Susan_story.htm

 

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