Home, at last.....

After one of the most emotionally trying days of my life, I can finally say that I'm HOME. Granted, these are not the circumstances I had imagined or hoped for, but at least I am here.

The day started out well enough...we were packed and ready to hit the road at noon, right on target. We climbed into the Pathfinder and headed for the border, leaving a very teary-eyed Holly and little Caleigh behind. I had the tiniest nagging worry about what would happen once we reached the border, but I did my best to ignore that. I wanted so much to believe that it was nothing more than a lingering bit of the anxiety I've had for the last two weeks. You would think that I'd have learned to trust my intuition by now. ....Apparently not...

Much to my dismay, those feelings of impending doom were not so far off target. In fact, the one possibility that distressed me most became a reality. After selling my car, quitting my job, packing up my life and presenting myself honestly at the border....I was turned away.

The officer asked me a series of very poignant questions...with the subtle indication that I must answer honestly yet CORRECTLY. Her words rolled out slow and heavy....'Are the belongings you have with you all of your worldly possessions? Meaning...if you moved across the world permanently, are these the things you would take with you?'....I looked her straight in the eye and paused. It was one of those moments when everything in your periphery vanishes and the world falls silent. I knew that my fate was hinged upon my answer, and yet I COULD NOT LIE. I said YES, despite the acute knowledge that I was shooting myself in the foot by doing so. My honesty destroyed me. Being truthful was the single most nocuous thing I could have done. And how awful is that?...to be so compromised by the truth? It's bureaucratic bullshit like this that inspires underhanded behaviour. I was simply trying to do everything by the books, respecting the system and trusting that it would work in my favor. Now I know better....

I was refused entry because moving my belongings into the country indicates that I have no intention of ever leaving(which, of course, is true). Regardless of the fact that I am a Permanent Resident Applicant, I am not allowed to live here until my application is accepted. And who knows how long that will be...months?...a year, maybe? The legislation makes sense, but it cares nothing for the human side of things. Apparently, we failed to notice the fine print on our 'Conjugal Partner' Application. According to the Immigration officer, Patrick and I are not allowed to live together until my Permanent Resident Visa is granted, simply because those were the circumstances under which we applied. How ridiculous is that?? Even if I got pregnant tomorrow...no, I'd have to remain in the States. We just want to be together! It seems so painfully simple and yet they make it virtually impossible.

So, after about an hour of doing my best to hold it together, I finally broke down. She said...'You guys have been doing this for two years...what's another six months?'.....I just lost it. She was trying to be sympathetic, but she had no idea just how painful that statement was. She tried to tell me that she knew how hard it was for us to be apart. I had to gently correct her. I don't think she has any clue just how miserable it's been to endure the forever repeated 'Goodbye'. It's been hard on both of us. Yes...we've made it work, but it's been nothing short of agonizing.

She really was trying to find some way to help, dropping little hints and saying things in such a tone as to indicate that she actually meant the opposite...and that, 'Hypothetically', I could get away with staying here for six months, as long as I didn't have my things with me and abided by all the visitor regulations. She made it clear that I wasn't the problem. She said that, as an officer, she wasn't worried about ME. It was just a matter of the goods I brought with me. Apparently I did everything right...just a bit too early.

In all honesty, I'm perfectly happy with how things turned out. As long as I'm here with Patrick, I could care less where my things are stored. It's the complete lack of help for someone in my situation that upsets me. I was terribly misinformed, regardless of the fact that I bent over backwards trying to get a straight answer from someone as to what I could or couldn't do as a PR applicant. Just last week I tried yet again, hoping to find some clarity. The Consulate General in Seattle referred me to the Customs Call Centre, who then transferred me to the Customs Office at the border, who then referred me right back to the Consulate General and NO, there was not a number I could call so that I could speak directly with someone at the Blaine Immigration office. That's the infuriating scenario that has played out numerous times over the last ten months.

I finally stopped at the border about a month ago, for unrelated reasons, and I had a chance to speak with the Customs Supervisor at the Peace Arch Crossing. He was incredibly helpful and friendly, a stark difference from the aforementioned run around I was accustomed to. So I chose to operate under the assumption that he knew what he was talking about. After all, he was only about the tenth person who told me that I could move up on a visitor visa, no problem. He also claimed that I would be treated as though I were 'Landing' and my goods would be processed accordingly. I admit, it was my err to have believed him rather than walking the extra 20 paces into the nearby Immigration Office and asking them directly. A mere ten minutes would have saved us a day of pointless driving. But, in my naivete, I thought the two entities were connected. Customs and Immigration...two entirely different worlds...and now I know.

At least I had Patrick with me through yesterday's disappointments. Had I been alone, I would have crumbled completely. What an incredible man...he turned the car around and drove us back to Seattle. We stored my ill-fated 'goods' in Holly's basement and then turned right around and made the drive North AGAIN. It occurred to me at one point to simply dump my trappings somewhere and rid myself completely of the obvious burden. I've felt bogged down by my possessions in the past, but THIS...this put a whole new spin on things. The fact that I was turned away because I had my 'worldly possessions' assumes that 'things' hold more value for me than people. I told the officer as much. What about the family that I'm leaving behind? They hold far more draw for me than these meaningless objects yet, according to Immigration, if I have my belongings with me, I'll never leave Canada. Perhaps that's just my emotions talking. But it's just so much red-tape! Never before have I felt so bound...

Needless to say, it was an exceptionally exhausting day. But I'd like to think that I learned from it. And, as I've observed before, Patrick and I work very well under such arduous conditions. They only serve to further my appreciation for what we have, reminding me just how invaluable this relationship is. I could not ask for a more grounding, supportive and comforting partner. He encourages me to do more, inspires me to be more and loves me despite my failings. Who can blame me for wanting so to be near him? For that...I would relinquish all material possessions.

THAT...is where the system got it wrong...