Love & Canada: Just So Much Canada

I’m not going to bury the lede today so let’s jump in.

somewhere-in-canada

scenic Canadian country side, mostly here to build anticipation


My Lesbian Immigration Marriage Feelings, Part 4

21. My visa got approved!!!

This is the first feeling and also the introduction to this post because it’s the most narrative and I’m interpreting the style of these lists very loosely.

Before I even applied for a visa I knew there would be an interview and I knew I would be better at it if Shannon were there, because she makes me better at everything.

So Shannon arrived on a red eye Wednesday morning and went day drinking with my mom after a nap while I worked before we went downtown to do Toronto things. Thursday we drove to Montreal for my K1 visa interview at the consulate. I haven’t been to Montreal since I moved in March and being back for sixteen hours for this one thing, and staying in a hotel and acting like it isn’t mine because it’s not any more felt really weird. We walked around just a little and went out for dinner in one of my favorite neighborhoods and then went immediately to the hotel and did not leave.

Instead of leaving, I worried about the following things: forgetting some of the paperwork even though we’d both gone over it a dozen times; not waking up for the alarm; Shannon not being allowed into the building or up to the interview or into the interview with me; not being able to hear someone talking to me through a window in a crowded room; not being able to speak loud enough that someone could hear me through a window in a crowded room, because I get quiet when I am a certain type of nervous; the interviewer being homophobic; the interview being an asshole; not getting the visa for some other reason that I hadn’t thought of yet but would definitely somehow be my fault; not getting the visa and then not being allowed in the States for a certain time period; that time period being years. I know most of these things are relatively trivial but my brain was fixated anyway.

Shannon watched Naked and Afraid until I made her turn it off.

We lined up for the interview outside the US consulate, which was strategically less than a block from the hotel, around quarter to seven with just my envelope of paperwork, Shannon’s passport, and a hotel key and credit card each. (Anyone here for the wedding stuff should feel free to skip ahead but anyone here who’s into reading visa walkthroughs right now should stick with me.) My sense of time is a little fuzzy because you can’t bring a cellphone or bag into the building and I do not own a watch, but the line behind us stretched down the block by just after seven. I tried to make hopeful gay eye contact with a probable lesbian power couple but otherwise everyone read as straight. After explaining who Shannon was in relation to me, we were let in to go through airport-like security around 7:40, I was handed a laminated piece of paper with “Applicant 1” on it and an accompanying feeling of having won at waiting in line, and we were let up to the floor for the interview at 8.

Upstairs, we waited a little more, and I worried more about not being able to hear anything before my number was called. The first window was open to the waiting room, Shannon came up with me, and I handed over my application in pieces: proof of payment for the interview and courier, my passport and a copy, my original police certificate, my sealed medical exam, two passport photos, my long-form birth certificate and a copy, Shannon’s certified divorce certificate and a copy, and the I-134 and evidence of support (letters from her work and bank, proof of life insurance and a copy of her taxes). I also got fingerprinted and handed a pamphlet on domestic abuse and sexual assault, and then called back to the window to give an updated “letter of intent to marry” from Shannon.

Just before 9, I was called up to another window in a closet-sized room a few steps from the waiting area. Shannon came with me, but was told to go sit down, which is the point at which I almost threw up. I had to read an oath and swear by giving more fingerprints, and then the interviewer asked where I’d seen that Shannon could come to the interview, why she came to the interview, how we met, what Shannon does for work, when we got engaged and when we decided to get married (after I said we only got formally engaged a few weeks ago). There was a lot of him looking at papers and writing or typing things and a lot of me casually trying to see what he was writing or typing. Then he gave me a letter that said “Welcome to the United States” on it and told me I’d have my passport back with my visa in it in one to two weeks and then, when I was too relieved to respond, that I could go now.

I went back to the waiting room to find that in the meantime Shannon had befriended the lesbian power couple, and then we grinned at them and then at each other like idiots and almost made it into the elevator before making out but not quite. We speculated on whether anyone has ever had sex in the consulate bathroom. We were relieved the hotel was less than a block away.

queer-lake-makeouts

not the hotel room

22. Then we went on a tiny Canadian road trip.

Because we’d already driven around Toronto and then from Toronto to Montreal we went to Ottawa to have a lingering lunch with my ex-partner/now awesome friend and then through Algonquin Park at dusk and then to a cottage. Over the course of basically a few hours I was in or within highway signage of everywhere I’ve ever lived and everywhere a good many of the people related to me were born or lived and I wish that it made me arrive at some sort of single tidy feeling about leaving for probably ever but instead I mostly wanted to be not sitting in a car any more. There was a lot of Canada. Shannon bought unfortunate flip flops with maple leaves on them at one point, and got to experience butter tarts and roadside chip trucks and a small part of my extended family and a large part of my parents’ emotional range, and while I am glad she got to experience these things it also made me feel really nostalgic for them even as they were happening. I don’t need or want partners who know everything about me, but there will always be another place I wish we had time to visit.

23. And now Shannon’s back in LA.

And I miss her. Right now we’re both getting through the more intense post-visit period by planning our bedroom, the only section of the apartment to currently look like hot garbage, which is helping. (From one point of view, we’ve been living together since February. From another point of view, we won’t be living together until right before we get married. Either way, we need somewhere for the art and laundry to live.) Also I can’t book my flight just yet — or anything, officially — even though I really want to because:

24. A few key people still don’t know we’re getting married in fiveish weeks.

Oops?

CANADA


Feelings? Advice? Wedding questions? Immigration questions? 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 is the NSFW Consultant, and was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor, for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 934 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. Congrats on your visa. You guys are adorable. Any stupid visa-granting type bureaucrat who tried to keep you guys apart would have to be some sort of Voldemort who also hated puppies and rainbows. Anyway! Yay!

  2. congrats on getting the Visa!
    Thie bureaucracy that is involved in moving to a different country can drain the excitement out of all your future plans, so I am happy for you that you are done with visa paperwork and can focus on the things that are definitively more exciting (minus the hotel ;))

  3. You guys!!! I am so super stoked for you!! Congratulations on your visa success, and on Shannon befriending the power lesbian couple during your interview. Welcome to the USA indeed!

  4. And then one day you’ll wonder why you allowed yourself to get so freaked out about all the little things that could go wrong, but were never going to go wrong in this universe.
    BTW you’re not leaving Canada forever – life tends to be long, convoluted and lacking a fundamental plan… but the ride is pretty fun on reflection. 🙂

  5. Wonderful! Some things like formal engagement can make them fuss, but isn’t it so anticlimactic?? When I recieved my welcome to America paper I was shocked. I didn’t think it was real.

    I just picked up my passport from the dhl pickup about 6 days ago.. And I have my flight to the US booked for August 7th, 6am. The fun part will be crossing the boarder and then having them tell me all I need to know.
    I’m so excited. I can’t wait to be with my wife.

    And I’m so glad you’re past all the hard parts as Well!! Its amazing really, when you realize that it’s over. And you’ll be home soon.

    • It definitely did not feel real. It still sort of doesn’t, and it’s been a week.

      Also I’m so excited for you!! (And glad someone else has the “hmm maybe I will take the earliest morning flight possible” strategy that I do.)

  6. Congratulations! Also, as a weird cosmic aside, I think Naked and Afraid was a totally appropriate pre-interview viewing choice – one of the participants on that show officiated my sister’s wedding.

  7. my eyes welled up with happy-tears for you while reading this, and “i don’t need or want partners who know everything about me” got me like whoa. i’m going to think on that one today. so happy for you! today is great! thank you for sharing!

  8. Thank you so much for the update!I totally feel you on the visa thing, although I’m just getting a long stay student one for France, it’s so nerve wracking. And nice pics!

  9. CONGRATS!!!!!! OMG I cant really imagine all the feelings you both have. How long did it take for your visa to process? Was it hard to submit things? What kind of questions did they ask for your interview?

    • The whole thing took from the end of January until the end of last week, so just under 6 months. All the questions in the interview are in the post! Submitting things was mostly annoying, because there was a lot of conflicting information between government websites, and fees, and a lot of waiting, but with research it was fine and we didn’t use a lawyer.

  10. I cried when I got to the part where they handed you the letter with “Welcome to the United States” on it. Congratulations!!! You know how much I love this series, and I am so happy for the both of you.

    On a semi-related note, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the news that the Ontario Superior Court is upholding the ruling that expats who have been out of the country for more than 5 years can no longer vote. I mean, obviously this will infringe on our Constitutional rights as per the Charter of Rights and Freedoms section I.iii, so this will go to the Supreme Court eventually…but I’ve been smarting about it all week. I think what gets me the most about this series, Carolyn, is how carefully it explains the rawness of leaving everything you’ve ever known, not because it’s bad, but because you know there is something even more beautiful to be had out there. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still want to hang on to the lovely things you’ve always known–and I guess that’s why this voting thing has been getting me down, because it feels like it’s forcing me to cut ties with something I still feel so vested in. I know what I want from life and my career, and I know that Canada can’t give me what I want, but that doesn’t mean that all it has given me won’t always be a big part of me. And I think that’s got to count for something.

    (P.S.: I hope my deluge of emotions every time you publish this column isn’t too annoying, but you’re speaking right to my heart.)

    • My feeling is both that the voting thing makes a lot of sense, because at the barest level it makes sense that people voting in a country are people with a perceived long-term and also immediate stake on what happens, and I’m not convinced that’s the case for people who have been gone for years (though five seems a little light). On the other hand, it does go right against the Charter and also fuck that, so it’ll be really interesting to see how it plays out.

  11. Oh I have so many feelings about this. I’ll be going through this process very soon and I’m feeling pretty bad about being so scared of every potential disaster…Good to know it’s not just me.

  12. CONGRATULATIONS. My wife and I are going through the immigration process, only the other way ’round. I’m an American on my way up to Canada. We just submitted our application for permanent residency in June. At the time it was the only option because Ohio was dragging its feet politically but it’s so amazing to see that the fiance visa is now less of a SNAFU when coming to the States (SEE I’M AN AMERICAN AND I AM SAYING ‘THE STATES’ NOW UGH). Congratulations again and good luck with the wedding!

  13. Our visa interview was on Friday and we were also approved! It’s so cool to be able to read something on Autostraddle that mirrors this bizarre part of our lives, because our friends and family do NOT get it.

    My big worry is something you didn’t mention at all, which is – what if my passport is somehow just…delayed? For no reason? And I can’t do anything about it? THAT is the part that is keeping me from booking my flight. I am sure it’ll be fine. Right?

    • Oh my gosh congrats!! Also I’m sure it will be totally fine. I just got the delivery notice for mine this afternoon though and have been confronted with a whole new set of worries, specifically “my passport is my main ID and only photo ID, hopefully my birth certificate is enough to get it from the courier.”

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