Feature image is of a poem by Jacqueline Suskin.
I am impatient.
Every day for the last six months almost exactly, and often more than once, I’ve asked Shannon to marry me, or she’s asked me. Sometimes it’s been when we’re driving and the stars are coming out and sometimes it’s been over dinner and sometimes it’s been in bed and sometimes it’s been over text and a few times it was on a mountain and once it was when I was drunk in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s just outside of Disneyland, and every time she’s said yes or I have, and every time but one it has not counted and it has also counted more than anything.
The time that counted most was just a few weeks ago. We went to the top of a mountain at sunset and she pulled a ring out of her bag and I pulled a ring out of my bra and she asked and I asked and then we cried and then we made out a lot. It was perfect, because every moment with her is perfect, and because even if something is going horribly wrong we’re still together and fucking in it and it’s going to be okay.
Shannon lives in Los Angeles and when we met I lived in Montreal. It wasn’t a good time for either of us to invest in a new person and 4,591 kilometres is so many kilometres and anyway DOMA had only recently been declared unconstitutional, so we obviously weren’t going to date. We were just going to be really good friends having the best sex of our lives together who talked and sexted all the time and maybe we would visit each other sometimes and that would be fine, right? That would be enough.
The first time she flew to see me, it became immediately apparent that that was never going to be enough.
I never thought about getting married, and Shannon never wanted to get married again. But we’ve been talking about getting married, both in general and also specifically to each other, since way before it was probably appropriate. We were walking in the sunlight in spring in Toronto and talking about how there’s never enough time and how when we are together it feels like home, and she pushed me against a wooden gate with plants everywhere and said maybe we could figure out a way to be together, even if it meant trying to get me to America one of these days, even if it meant getting hitched.
The thing about my future immigration marriage is that it’s an immigration marriage but not an immigration marriage. I have no judgment for how other people do things but that is not what I am up to, so get on board. The part of immigration I want is the part where I get to be with her forever, in her city, in her bed. I’m not using her to get a visa — and it’ll be a K-1 fiancé visa, which means I enter the country as her fiancé and we have to get married within 90 days, just so we’re clear — I’m using a visa to get (keep) her. Her work is tethered to Los Angeles and mine can be anywhere and anyway Los Angeles is beautiful this time of year and all times of year. Isn’t the great Canadian dream moving south? I think I read that somewhere. I love Canada, but my heart is in LA.
So here’s where we are now.
My immigration interview is in Montreal at the end of July. Assuming it goes well — and if you think I haven’t become a gloriously compulsive knock-on-wood-er since this process started, you are mistaken — I’ll get my passport back with the visa in it a week or two later and move after that. After my visa is approved — and I’ll find out whether it is or isn’t right there in the interview — I have six months to enter the United States and 90 days from whenever I enter to get married. I don’t have a way of being insured in the States until we get married, and I can’t legally do paid work until I get a work permit some time after that, so this thing is happening as efficiently as possible.
I am, like I said, impatient.
After my visa is approved, we’ll tell Shannon’s family what day we’re actually getting married. (Mine already knows; our relationships with our families, and the ways our families react to things, are different.)
I ditched my Montreal apartment in March to save money for this whole situation, so right now I’m “living in Los Angeles and just visiting my parents to sort out some immigration paperwork long swallow of wine.” I’m cat-sitting in Ottawa for a week at the beginning of August, and ideally moving right after.
We’re getting married at sunset in September, in front of at most 26 people, assuming all the Canadians and far away friends can get their tickets and time away from work on short notice. The actual marrying part is going to happen on the front steps of a house under a beautiful public art piece that feels a little like magic made real. We’re going to serve champagne all the way through, and go to dinner at an aesthetically similar nearby restaurant afterward.
The thing about never thinking about getting married before is that I don’t really have any ideas of what a wedding should look like, let alone a wedding at which I will be one of the people getting married and also ideally having a good time. I know I am gonna fight to keep it tiny. (This is why we’ve already booked the house.) I know I don’t really want to engage with save the dates or decisions about napkins and that I don’t really want to know about the hundreds of tiny traditional details of which I am not presently aware. I have a dress that’s almost ready, and Shannon has a suit that’s almost ready.
But a lot of the details, of the wedding and of my immigration, are still up in the air. How do you find an officiant? What do officiants do? How will my stuff, which is mostly a few boxes of books and sex toys, get to LA? Will I end up hiring a lawyer at some point? Do we need to decorate? When will Shannon give her family the details? What will we do about music? What if [insert interview anxiety here]?
This miniseries, clearly a direct relative of Laneia’s Wedding Feelings I’m Powering Through but with a twist, will answer all these questions and also any questions of yours I am able to answer and more.
My Lesbian Immigration Marriage Feelings, Part 1
1. I’m not going to be Canadian any more.
I mean technically I will always be Canadian. Dual citizenship is allowed, and even though I think America makes you swear an oath to give up allegiances to other countries and such, I’m pretty sure Canada doesn’t care.
But I’ve spent most of my whole life imaging that the rest of my life would take place in one setting and now it’s going to take place in another, and that’s pretty weird. When I’m in America if anyone talks to me in metric it feels like a warm hug of familiarity but when I’m in Canada I sometimes speak in imperial by accident. Also I call it “America” now instead of “the States” or “the US” like a proper Canadian and I don’t know what that’s about.
I will always be outraged you guys still have pennies though. Pennies are garbage.
(A lot of my feelings also involve politics but a wedding feeling post is hmmm maybe not the place to discuss them but they’re also playing a role.)
2. I don’t know about traditional wedding things, will this be a problem?
As I wrote above, I hadn’t given much thought to weddings before my own started to be a thing that was going to happen. I’ve been to four total, always as the guest of a partner or tbh in three cases my parents, none of my closest friends have gotten married, and I was too busy planning to be abducted by fairies as an eight year old to think about it.
Hopefully this won’t stop be from throwing a good party but I am worried it will somehow offend someone who is expecting something to happen that I don’t know should happen or do not want.
3. Do I need to decorate?
It’s sort of a pretty setting, will anything we add just be clutter? Would a few strings of lights improve things or look messy? If I just like flowers, is it okay to have a single bouquet on the table with the booze and leave them at that? If we won’t really get to hang out in the space until the day of, is it okay to sort of figure this out the day of? I want things to look pretty, but also for the vibe to be less “this is a formal celebration of love” and more “let’s hang out and all be cute to each other” with a little bit of “we are going to dinner an hour after the ceremony and need to be totally cleaned up by then.”
4. Immigration involves so much paperwork.
You guys it involves SO much paperwork. And then you have to carry that paperwork around with you sometimes, so if you try to travel and you visit one of the fun little rooms in the airport you have paper on you that will help you make your flight. I have to prove there is no reason I should not immigrate and Shannon has to prove she can support me financially when I do and we have to prove our relationship is real and then stuff like police background checks and vaccination records and divorce records and medical exams and trying to convince the drug store that no, you really do want twelve passport photos printed, you did not misspeak, and there’s more. Related: what if I forget about some of the paperwork.
5. Immigration also involves a lot of legal and financial stuff.
What will be my deal, getting-paid-by-my-current-clients-all-of-whom-I-would-like-to-keep wise? I haven’t found a lot of information on my specific work situation and potential work situation and even though I’ve done a good job of avoiding professional legal advice so far it might be time to find a lawyer to ask.
Also I need to figure out what to do about my finances. In that I have no idea how taxation works in America except that the other day I learned my tax-free savings account will be taxed up to 50% if it’s still open when I enter the country to move there and then I heard that my credit rating might not exist in America and so I need to research.
Also in order to afford my move and the wedding and the unknown length of time in which I can’t work I’ve been working three times as much as normal which leaves me so much time to research and do all the stuff I need to research and do!
6. I don’t know the best way to move my stuff to LA.
Suitcases? FedEx? Driving over the border and using media mail?
7. I don’t know what shoes to wear.
My dress is clinging floor-length black velvet with a plunging neckline and a short fishtail and when Shannon saw me in it she fell over onto the ground. It needs to be hemmed and it lives in LA so I can’t take a picture of it yet but it’s amazing and peeing and stairs will be a challenge.
Even though I tromp around in three inch heels all the time, those are thick and on boots. Originally I had a shorter dress in mind and I was going to wear black thigh-high leather boots, but this dress is too tight for that so now I have to figure that out. Also I kinda want them to be sparkly and gold or else red and dyed to match the lining of Shannon’s suit and I want them to look like heels but feel like and offer the stability of boots. The last time I bought elegant formal heeled footwear was 2012 and before that it was 1999 (those shoes lasted) so I don’t really know how this works or what will look good.
8. What if.
Obviously the thing I am most worried about with this whole thing is something I can barely put into words in case, like Voldemort, they give it power, but there’s a reason we’re not telling Shannon’s family what the wedding date is yet and there’s a reason no one can book their flight yet and there’s a reason I’m up working at midnight instead of eating an orange and going to bed. What if what if what if. Please send me anxiety videos of cats.
Do you have advice? Do you have immigration or wedding feelings? Luckily Crystal is also planning an immigration and a wedding; Ali is also planning a wedding; Laneia, Mari, Rachel, KaeLyn and Whitney are already married; and Nikki used to be a wedding consultant so we have a lot to talk about if you want to hash anything out! Email us at youneedhelp @ autostraddle dot com or leave a question/feeling in the comments!