Love & Canada: Immigration Station

I’m writing this from my actual house in my actual city. I always imagined feeling relieved once I got here, and wanting to be quiet and maybe sleep for 1,000 hours, but instead I feel wired and excited for literally everything. I’ve never had a move that felt so little like being jolted from one space to another and so much like something clicking into place.

My life still feels like it’s split, and will stay that way for a while. I can’t open a US bank account yet; I need to connect with or make friends; I need to find that place I go when I need to get stuff done out of the house and that place I go when I want a drink alone without men trying to talk to me; I need to figure out how American grocery stores work. I need to get actually married so I can get on my way to a green card. For at least the next ten years, there will always be a next step in my immigration process. I want to wrap up all the loose ends and I can’t.

But for right now, that feels okay. Everything is new and exciting and Shannon is coming home to our house where I live too in a few hours and it hasn’t sunk in yet and maybe it never will.

i took this 5:30 am airport bathroom selfie just for you

i took this 5:30 am airport bathroom selfie just for you

My Lesbian Immigration Wedding Feelings, Part 7

36. I still have a lot of Canada stuff to worry about.

I would love for everything to be done and dealt with and tied up with a bow, but instead everything is open and messy and partly incomplete. I know I have to embrace it but in the meantime it’s hard not to have endless loops of “okay I have to remember to do this paperwork that I can’t do until [thing] and after it goes through I need to do these ten things” hopping around in my brain, even if I write them down to make them go away. There is no reason in the world that my 2015 tax return should be taking up any space in my brain right now but that sure as hell isn’t stopping it.

5.3. I now have a lot of America stuff to worry about.

For instance, did you know that if you immigrate on a K1 visa you don’t get a social security number for a while, so you can’t get a bank account or a phone plan or anything else you might need to feel like an adult? I found this out by trying to get a contract for my phone, so instead Shannon has to get a contract for my phone that is connected to my (Canadian) credit card, which the stores I called were only sort of sure would work. (I ended up not going for the TD/RBC cross-border account after all after going into each branch and determining that neither was actually appropriate to my situation. And neither has ATMs in California anyway.)

Also I looked at a Los Angeles crime map the other day and it was a mistake. AMERICA. I want an alarm system.

37. Moving in, but also not.

Depending on how you count it, Shannon and I have been living together for a little over six months or less than two days. (I count it both ways at once together.) Both our names are on the lease for an apartment that we both planned on living in together, I was here for her moving day and at least a growing third of my things have lived here since then, and we’ve set everything up together. But we’ve never had any sort of regular day-to-day together before, because even when I visited for over two months there was never not the knowledge that eventually I was going to leave. And there’s still a lot of moving-in type stuff to do, like buying a new bed frame and a firm mattress (the frame broke for Reasons, and I will rant against soft mattresses for days), and getting the landlord to remove the old gross 16-year-old air conditioner in one window with a screen, and getting an extra mail key made.

Shannon is making me an office, and also making me have a proper office. I am finishing caulking every possible thing that might be caulked, because I will die if I see a(nother) cockroach in my home and also because no one in Los Angeles takes bedbugs seriously. We might paint the kitchen. We’re merging our bookshelves (except for comics), which feels possibly more serious than immigration or marriage. I’ve never getting rid of either duplicate copy of Bad Feminist though. I am convincing her to throw out some of her stuff, and she is convincing me to stop throwing out all of my stuff.

I’m taking all this banality and spreading it on the bed and rolling around in it because I feel so lucky to be doing it with her. Shannon isn’t the first partner I’ve lived with, and I know everything right now will evolve and that it’s okay to take it slow and that there’s going to be a learning curve I can’t even see the shape of yet, but I am so damn excited to be here in our apartment daydreaming about a cheery turquoise kitchen and alphabetizing books and figuring out sex toy storage and wondering what plants would live best in the direct sunlight on the ledge by the table.

needs a lot of work

spot the vintage vibrator bookend

18.2. My scary health things are resolved, sort of.

I wrote before about going for my first physical in years and having all these possibly terrifying things come up, and some of them were fine and most of them are less terrifying but will be around forever, which I can live with. After a few weeks of wondering and one day of wearing a heart monitor it turns out I just have to check my fibrous breasts forever and also be careful about booze and coffee and exercise and noticing if anything changes.

It might be weird to write about this here but also I’m pretty excited I’m not as likely to drop dead tomorrow as I was under the impression I could be, and I found out in time to keep my flight and this is reason #2,542 I feel less freaked out than I was a few weeks ago.

17.2. Ugh LA gyms ugh.

I went to Shannon’s gentle, friendly, class-based, cross-fit-esque gym this morning and only felt like I’d worked out properly when she dropped me off a few kilometres away from home and I ran the rest of the way. I found somewhere else to try down the street from it tomorrow but I’m keeping my hopes low. All I want is to be able to use the elliptical for an hour and not pay a ton and not have to interact with or be objectified by men, does anyone know where I can make this happen for myself.

38. We’re getting a prenup.

Cohabitation is a financial risk; marriage is a much bigger financial risk; and for us right now they’re connected. In an article on this very website, Bevin writes:

“Getting married is, financially, like entering into a business partnership with someone. Ideally, if you enter into a business relationship, you’d do some sort of due diligence on their money management skills, create a budget and are transparent with one another about the business assets. We don’t usually do that kind of due diligence on our future spouses, as conversations about money are sometimes uncomfortable and isn’t it more fun just to talk about decorating the living room or what type of pet to adopt?”

Not to brag or anything but we’ve done the due diligence. And I have never felt so certain about anyone as I do about Shannon. And we’re also getting a prenup.

We’re getting a little close to the wedding, which makes me wonder about timelines and availabilities and accompanying legal fees, but I’ve contacted a local LGBT legal clinic for advice/a referral and hopefully they’re speedy.

3.3. Decor update:

LED candles and sparkly gold washi tape: a decor element that we’re adopting for ease and also casual lighting.

39. What if it’s too hot to wear my dress?

Specifically, about how it is made of velvet and multiple slips, and how it has been approaching 30 degrees in the late afternoons lately. It’s black so my sweat shouldn’t show, but I would prefer not to be sweaty and itchy and uncomfortably hot during my wedding (followed by itchy and uncomfortably damp as temperatures drop later in the evening) and I’m really hoping for just slightly cooler weather. I keep almost trying it on “just to see how it will feel when it’s hot out” but also sense that this would be an inherently bad idea because I am already sweaty and my hair is being weird. “Dewy” is in, right?

I tried on parts of my mom's wedding dress. Not an option.

I tried on parts of my mom’s wedding dress. Not an option.

28.3. I still need to write the ceremony.

I was going to have the ceremony written by yesterday evening but it turned out that was ambitious and anyway I’m sort of stuck on the ceremony and how it will go. I know the answer is to just write it and then edit it until I actually like it, which for me is usually the answer for everything written, but it just feels so huge and important that diving in, especially with all this other stuff distracting me, has been a challenge so far.

Feelings? Wedding questions? Immigration questions? Advice about impractical fashion choices? Email our team of married/getting married/immigrating/immigrated humans at youneedhelp @ autostraddle dot com or leave a question/feeling in the comments!

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 972 articles for us.


  1. It won’t help with bigger stuff, but when asked for a social security number at, like, the doctor’s office or public library, it’s worth asking whoever wants it whether they really need it to proceed. You’ll sometimes get a “not really” or “I honestly don’t even know why we ask that.”

    Also, I’m curious about how American grocery stores are different from Canadian ones now.

    Also also, I initially assumed 30 degrees was in Fahrenheit, so I wondered for a second how SoCal could possibly be having that kind of cold snap and wait you said hot oh Celsius.

    • This is a good idea, thank you! (The library is especially relevant to my interests.)

      The main difference is that you guys have a lot more processed foods/mass-produced baked goods all over and smaller produce sections relative to the side of the store (I’m extrapolating based on about three stores, though.)

  2. Some banks will let you open an account without a social security number – but you can’t get online access. I think Wells Fargo is an option?
    I had Chase without a social security number but they’re so awful it’s better not to have an account and instead use your partners, in my opinion. It’s what I ended up doing after a couple of years. Chase is the worst business I have ever encountered.

    Also, AT&T used to let you have a pay-as-you-go plan without a social security number – worth a shot?

    Either way, good luck!

    • It’s true! For a while Bank of America was advertising accounts tailored for undocumented immigrants, who don’t have social security numbers, obvs. I imagine there’s still something similar you could use too!

    • I second the thing about investigating pay-as-you go phones if not having an SSN is an issue. I have had Virgin Mobile for a little over a decade and I don’t think I have ever had to give them my SSN. (If you want to pay online then that does require a credit/debit card, but I used to buy top-up cards at grocery/drug stores so paying online is maybe not necessary.)

    • I got a US bank account a couple of weeks ago (with TD) without a SSN. Getting online access wasn’t an issue either. Hoping I’ll be able to get a phone plan without too much hassle. (So far the only huge nightmare has been the DMV)

  3. “All I want is to be able to use the elliptical for an hour and not pay a ton and not have to interact with or be objectified by men, does anyone know where I can make this happen for myself.”

    The YMCA tends to be less pretentious in general than all other gyms I’ve been to (including but not limited to Crunch, Ballys, LA Fitness, Equinox, New York Sports Club) and people generally ignore each other. There are sometimes kids around but not in the workout rooms. In Berkeley they had a women’s only section in their gym. They definitely don’t have that here (in metro detroit) but maybe they do in LA?

    • Second this! I love working out at the YMCA. Plus, they have a sliding scale based on income. I know the maximum single fee is $60/month in Houston, with access to all facilities in the city. And if you go anywhere else in the U.S., you can use the Y in the other city for free or a nominal fee.

  4. First of all I am in agreement with Laura about that bookcase.
    I wasn’t sure at first if it was a stock photo or something because it’s so beautiful and perfect and I want to recreate it in every room of my tiny ugly house.

    I’m not sure if I’ve commented on this series before but I wanted to tell you that it’s one of my favorite columns I’ve ever read on autostraddle so thank you for sharing your life with us because it’s a really great read!

    Regarding your ceremony-I was in the same boat when I was getting ready for my wedding. I ended up writing a really terrible and boring ceremony outline about a week before the wedding, and I just revisited it every day and changed a thing or two until I liked it enough.

    I emailed the final draft to our awesome judge about 18 hours before the ceremony, and she did an amazing job with it.

    You will get there too; don’t worry about it taking longer than expected.
    I’m sure it’ll be perfect. <3

    I'm glad things are going well now that you're here in the States!

    Okay bye!

  5. I’m currently preparing for my move to the UK. Even though I’m leaving in less than two weeks, my housing and visa are still not set. I am stressed and scared and want to curl up. But I’m sending so many thank you’s to you, Carolyn, for making me feel a little less alone.
    Go start a queer gym and show those LA folks who’s boss!

  6. I just discovered this column today and I have never been more happy to stumble across something on the Internet. Over the summer I started dating someone from England and it seemed crazy since her visa was expiring in September. But this gives me hope that maybe it could work out and not be some type of 90 Day Fiancé situation.

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