This is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down… Okay, okay, plagiarism alert (wee-oooh-wee-oooh), but truthfully Will Smith got me pegged on that one. This is a story about me, picking up everything and moving my life across the continent for love. This story is being written every day and really this is just the beginning.
I am a born and raised Canadian gal. Spent the better part of my life in Toronto. I’ve always had the travel bug and have taken many short trips and two longer ones; about 4 months in South-East Asia and South America respectively. That being said, Toronto has always been my home base. If you’ve traveled at all, you know the feeling of your plane touching down and seeing a familiar skyline, seeing the buildings and shops you know so well, the streets that you could wander blind and that feeling of being home. But home is more than just a place, it’s more than just a grouping of districts and landmarks and a name. Home is where my best friends of nearly 15 years live. To be clear, they are nomadic little shits, so really it’s hard to say that they live in Toronto all the time. However like me, it is their home base and we all return eventually. So home – Toronto – is them.
It is also my parents. Through the years they have been ever supportive of my unsettled, wandering ways. My to-a-tee millennial life of avoiding a career path and continuing to scrape by. Taking off and spending whatever meagre savings I have earned in foreign lands. My wonderful parents who I can sit and talk away the night with. All we need is a bottle of wine (or two) and a home cooked meal for a good time. Despite the fact they moved out to Niagara on the Lake (NoTL) an annoying two hour bus ride away, they are still close enough to Toronto to see regularly and so Toronto is them too.
Toronto is also freedom. The ability to work and have a life that I can fiercely call my own. I have spent the last four years taking orders, cleaning dirty plates, and carrying finger-print-erasing, burning hot plates for humans who frequently forget how to say, ‘please’ and, ‘thank you’. Nothing you would call particularly fulfilling work. However, it is work and it’s money. Pretty good money. My money. Money that I earned and money that I could spend as I like with minimal guilt. Not to mention that restaurants are like high school. This meant in the good sense, that there’s a group of people you see 5 or 6 days a week, who you share experiences and forge bonds with. So work is freedom and friends and work is Toronto.
So here I am, 25 years old, living with my best friend in a small but cute two bedroom apartment in the middle of downtown Toronto with a job and an eclectic group of friends. Not exactly glamorous, but pretty good if you ask me. Now begs the question, why up and leave this simple but satisfying existence and move across the continent to San Francisco? San Francisco where I can no longer legally work, where I am a 6 hour plane ride away from Toronto and where the sun struggles to shine through the fog.
His name is Alan and he is my whole heart.
Alan and I met at the Burning Man festival through a wonderfully random set of circumstances that I fondly refer to as fate. The year was 2010 when I discovered the Burning Man festival. Immediately I knew I had to go. I managed to lasso my best friend Alison into taking the dive with me. Like so many things that would come to be, we got our tickets through a little bit of luck and a lot of good karma. At this time they were selling ‘scholarship’ tickets at a discounted price to a select group of people who applied for them and were deemed worthy. When we arrived in Reno August of 2011, we had no fucking clue what we were getting ourselves into. We had a tent, a bit of gear, and a lot of good vibes. Suffice to say, that is not enough to survive a week in the desert.
In order for us to actually get into the festival we had had to figure out a ride share since the only way to get in was to drive in yourself. We met a couple of Israeli guys on the Burning Man ride share site that agreed to give us a lift in exchange for gas money. When we met them in Reno they, off-handedly in the kindest way, invited us to camp with them. We agreed enthusiastically, thank god. I still have no idea what we would have done if they hadn’t. Our camp was made up of four Israelis, five Americans, one Spanish girl, and us two Canadian ladies. Alan was one of those five Americans.
Now don’t go thinking this is a typical, love-at-first-sight story, because it’s not. Not exactly. That year, and for nearly 5 years after we never officially got together romantically. That’s not to say that there wasn’t always an energy between us though. Corny as hell? Yes. Completely true? Definitely. Alan and I both came to the playa that first year recovering from a major heartbreak. That was the first thing that bonded us. During that year on the playa he had a couple fleeting romances and while I never articulated it, the jealousy was there. It was like a little mosquito bite that kept itching. Mostly, though, I was happy for him.
There is one night that I will always look back on as the true beginning to our love, even if we didn’t see it that way for years. It was after the man burned and we were walking through the desert alone, hand in hand. Burning Man swirled around us with all of its lights and music and people, and I remember feeling completely at home. That’s how it began. We didn’t see each other again for two years, during which Alan fell in love and moved in with a woman named Lesley. When I saw him again for the first time there was that feeling of home, like I could be completely comfortable around him. It was that year, 2013, that we had to admit to each other that there was more between us than just friendship. It was hard to come to terms with, him having his life with Lesley. Though nothing happened, it was obvious that something deeper was starting between us. It took a year and a half of soul searching and long talks to really figure it out. In June of 2015 we kissed for the first time. It’s been written in stone ever since.
This past year of our lives has been amazing and challenging. Trying to sustain a long distance relationship between Toronto and San Francisco was heart wrenching at times, but in the end we made it. It was October, only 4 months into our relationship and we were making dinner in my little kitchen in Toronto when Alan said we should get married. I looked at him dumbfounded, in shock. If I’m being honest though, it was just an act. I had thought about it too, but him voicing it put weight behind the idea. We both knew that we wanted the long distance to end and that would mean one of us moving to either the U.S or Canada. No easy feat.
The months passed and we continued to talk about what we would do. In December we came to the agreement that it would make more sense for me to move to SF since my job was not a career and his job most certainly is. Not to mention he owns a house in San Fran. Both more binding ties than I had to Toronto. It was decided that when my lease was up in September of 2016 I would move to be with him in San Francisco.
That brings us here. We had an amazing summer together as new fiancés. He proposed on a lakeside with the view of the Colorado white-capped mountains during a camping trip in June. His wonderful company (Google) allowed him to work remotely from Toronto all summer so we could be together and he could know my home as I do. Now it is my turn to know his.
Leaving my home was hard. Saying goodbye to friends and family, knowing that I won’t be able to work here until after we are married is not easy. I’ve heard the quote, “write the story you want to read”. In trying to figure out what the next few months to years of my life are going to look like I’ve been hoping to read a blog or personal account of someone else moving to the States to immigrate and be married. While I may not have looked hard enough, I didn’t find anything like that, so I guess it falls on me to create it. To cope with this change and to hopefully help others who may be going through a similar experience; that’s what this is. A documentation of my feelings and experiences, the trials and tribulations as well as all the happiness and adventures. I am hoping to shed a little light on not only what it is like to pick up your life to be with someone, but also the legal processes of immigrating to the U.S.
With all that said, so it begins!