The first week of October of 2012 DH and I, finally, after almost four years of marriage, went on our honeymoon! Woo hoo!.
The deportation order had been lifted which meant I could travel within the U.S. Even if things still weren’t solved at least I had the liberty of moving within the country via plane (a huge privilege we take for granted). A whole month came and went and we still hadn’t heard anything back from the local USCIS office. Our lawyer suggested they might need more information and that if so they would request via letter. At this point there was nothing for us to do but wait. They could take all the time in the world. He asked me the same thing he had been asking me for years. You guessed it…he asked me to be patient.
I was seating under a cabana, staring at the blindingly blue Pacific Ocean when I read an email alerting me a comment had been made, for the first time in almost a year, on this very blog. The writer of the comment had mentioned how she was going through the same process and how difficult it was, how it seemed never ending and impossible. She sounded so hopeless, exactly how I had felt for the past three years, that I wanted to reassure her, but what could I really say? I was, just like her, still waiting.
I looked around me. I was spending the most amazing vacation in Maui with DH, and I was tanned and drunk on fruity drinks feeling so incandescently happy I felt weightless. It was as if the merest of sea breezes could carry me away and my sense of peace, even though things were unresolved, made me think that maybe it was time to look at the past year with less anger. No matter how hard things got, how humiliated I felt, how much I had cried, how much damage I had done to my liver, how frustratingly slow, stupid and redundant the process seemed, it had all led me here, to this moment. To the beautiful water around me, to the gorgeous mountain views, to sharing it all with the man I call my husband. Maybe it was the Aloha! spirit.
To everyone that can I would recommend a visit to Maui. For DH and me it was almost a religious experience. We swam with wild sea turtles in the open ocean, saw beautifully colored reef fishes out of Finding Nemo, ate delicious food, got to know the sad and beautiful story of the Hawaiian Islands, went all the way up 10,000 feet to a Volcano Summit (Haleakala) to see the sun rise and came back from it all, tattooed.
It’s so damn difficult to remain angry and bitter and resentful when life shows you how lucky you are, how privileged I truly am, being here, happy, healthy, in love. Also, how privileged I am by being able to afford a trip to Maui when so many others can’t afford the basics. It’s a sobering fact to know how much one complains when one has it easy.
I am not going to lie, I wish this entire process had been smoother, faster, less humiliating, but all things worth anything are worth fighting for, right? It was so easy to forget all the troubles and the pain and tears when wallowing in the beauty of Hawaii. I felt suddenly silly about the time I spent complaining. I also felt like that moment when I was feeling so happy I wanted to burst, was a reward, a reward for putting up with it all, a reward for staying strong when all I wanted was to run away and quit. It felt like a promise, a promise of better things to come, of how happy I could be now, even without everything completely solved.
You know when you are in a crappy relationship, and the person you are with hurts you, or cheats on you and you feel worthless and angry and miserable and as if you are never going to trust love again? And then someone comes and shows you just how damned wrong you were? And slowly, almost timidly, you are happy again and in love and you trust them and the relationship is how a relationship should be? And in that moment you realize you had to go through all that heartbreak, all those nights getting drunk or eating ice cream, all those nights spent drunk-dialing and crying to your girlfriends, and doubting yourself. You had to go through that so you could fully appreciate the beauty of love how is meant to be experienced.
That’s how I felt, like everything crappy that had happened to me during this immigration process was to make me appreciate the moments ahead, the beauty this country has to offer, the incredible luck I have that it didn’t go worse when it could’ve.
What won’t kill you makes you stronger, if you may. I remembered the many times my mom said to me that God won’t give you a burden he won’t think you can’t carry. I felt, even though I am not a religious person, that God was done testing me for the moment and here was my prize for carrying my burden the whole way. I may have done it bitching loudly instead of in quiet dignity but hell, I carried it.
We landed back in reality after a glorious week in Maui. We felt disconnected from the world, I had missed the first Presidential Debate and more shockingly I didn’t care. We came back in a daze for all we had seen, all we had drunk and all we had experienced. We didn’t want to go back to work, unpack, sleep in our room and look out the window to our parking lot. We wanted to get up early and go for breakfast in Lahaina, rent some gear and go snorkeling, or jump from the Black Rock into the blue/green waters in Ka’anapali Beach; we wanted to take another helicopter ride through the mountain’s inner valleys. We wanted to look out the window and watch the palm trees sway against the mountains and the pink and purple colors of the sunset reflecting on the water.
But we couldn’t. We unpacked, took Zoey for a walk, restocked the fridge, did the laundry, and opened the stack of mail.
Fateful mail...amid the Anthropology Catalog and the Costco Coupons was The Envelope. I opened it unbelieving, with shaky fingers…and there it was. My Green Card had arrived.