Saturday, December 26, 2015

Self-indulgent Saturday & Sunday #8

For links to earlier posts in this series see #7 where earlier links are included
I had so many happy times upon which to look back after my mother, then Bill, died.
We'd had regular vacations during the second half of the 1970s until the end of the 1990s. We'd taken in Spain's Costa del Sol; Tangier, Morocco; Honolulu, Hawaii; and many, many visits to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, off West Africa. We'd taken my mother on a couple of coach trips to Wales and to Scotland.

The loss of Bill had left a gaping hole in my life. I was alone - I'd been alone before, but this time I was really alone. Parents and grandparents had all gone before, old work friends were too far away for easy access. I was living in the small house on the East coast left to me by my parents, a two-train trip from Leeds. None of my old friends were using home computers at that time. I'd bought my first computer during Bill's slide into his last long illness. I credit that computer with aiding me through the painful months and the emotional storm that broke after Bill's death.

Communicating online had already become a daily pleasure, contributing to a few astrology forums, a fun AOL message board and, later, to a website that introduced me to what would now be termed social-networking. From the latter I made some friends to chat with - mostly male, as it happened, and mostly, though not all, from the USA, which seemed exciting and adventurous. I'll not go into detail - I'd embarrass myself too much, but I will admit that those online friends helped get me through what was the worst time of my life. Looking back on myself at that time, it wasn't me, not the me I know - but a version of me I'd not met before.

That period of my life just before, and after, Bill's death felt like struggling through a long-running violent storm and finding, from time to time, a sheltering arm, warm hugs, or sometimes just the loan of an umbrella to make the storm seem more bearable. I shall always feel grateful for those online friends, some of whom were as unhappy as I was, and I hope that our brief, passing friendship helped them through their storms as much as it helped me.

As the worst of the storm was passing, my now husband and I crossed paths on the internet. I knew then that this was me - back to the old me, the me I knew. From his first words - yes I knew!

I'm going to fall back now on part of an old post of mine to tell about the overture to the biggest change of my life.

Astrologically the outer planets had been either whipping me on throughout this storm and this journey, or holding the carrot - not sure which. Uranus conjoined my natal Jupiter at 6 Pisces for much of the early stages, and Pluto conjoined natal Venus in Sagittarius. These two planets seem to have orchestrated or choreographed the whole show!

 In Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
It all began at the end of 2003, when my now husband visited me in the UK. We decided that our future was together, and would need to be in the USA, because I had no remaining close family ties and he had many, back in the United States.

After much research and reading of immigration message boards, I came to the conclusion that, of the 3 methods available to us, one had the potential to be less painful than the other two. This method would involve Himself coming to live in the UK, with me, for a while, so that we could qualify to apply for a marriage visa, for me, via the US Embassy in London. Both other methods would have involved long spells apart, and having to rely on notoriously slow-moving USCIS Service Centers on the other side of the pond. The route we chose was more expensive, but we considered it worth the extra outlay.

First the husband-to-be had to return home to the USA, from whence he had to apply for a UK Fiancé Visa for himself. With this in hand, in the spring of 2004 he returned. We were wed at the end of April. The husband then had to apply, at the nearest immigration office (Liverpool), for an extension to his visa, for "Further Leave To Remain". This stage proceeded rapidly and painlessly, with a pleasant visit to Liverpool.

Next step: the husband needed to petition for permission for me, as his wife, to emigrate to the USA. Then I, potential immigrant, was required to apply for a visa on the ground of marriage to a US citizen.

An incredible amount of information and documentation was called for at this stage. The photocopies we had to provide must have caused the downing of large areas of rain forest somewhere in Brazil.

Once submitted there was a long wait for the US Embassy to process our petition and application. During this interval I put my house on the market. I was called for interview and medical examination in London at the end of August 2004. By then we were on tenterhooks, waiting to give a buyer for my house in Yorkshire the go ahead. We dare not risk doing so until I had visa in hand. On 1st September I had this! (Below, left, in front of the US embassy in London).

Next stop Oklahoma, after disposing of most of my worldly goods, packing the rest in several large boxes, shipping 'em to the USA, and finally selling the house.

Once in Oklahoma my visa remained conditional on the marriage remaining intact for 2years, at which point, in the summer of 2006, I had to apply to have conditions removed, and prove that the marriage was, indeed, intact by providing financial and other proof. This was done relatively quickly, my Permanent Resident's Card ("green card") was then made good for a further 10 years.

Another year had to pass before I became eligible to apply for US citizenship, thus ridding myself of the USCIS for ever, becoming eligible to vote and to hold a US passport. As it happened, I became eligible to make my citizenship application on 26 July just a few days before a fee increase was to be implemented. A huge frontlog of applications was the result of this, and caused the process to take around twice as long as normal.

After a variety of delays, obstacles and long postponements, I attended my citizenship interview on 19 June 2008, passed muster, passed the civics test and waited a mercifully brief time for the next available Oath Ceremony to finish the job: 25 July, at 9.30am, just a year after applying for citizenship, and almost 4 years since I obtained my first visa.

I dare not add up the cost in either $$$$$ or nervous tension. I'd like to say the process was fun....but it wasn't!

And so, I became a citizen of the United States.


After five years in the USA, from another old post, these were some of my thoughts:

It's exactly 5 years since I arrived in the USA to live here permanently. Looking back, I realise that it was one of those situations where I'd had to switch to mental auto-pilot. I do a similar thing sometimes at the dentist's or doctor's office, a useful habit of blocking out peripheral stuff, and thoughts in the subjunctive, about things that could possibly go wrong; retaining focus on a time in the near future with awkwardness gone. I stayed that way for a while, then, one day the enormity of the move hit me. I was worried. My husband was worried. Adding even more chaos to an already daunting situation, we decided to move house from my husband's home of many years. That occupied my mind and blocked out the nerves for a while. I took two brief visits back to the UK in the spring and fall of the next year, which helped a lot. I haven't been back to England since.

I've now got the hang of light switches being "up" for "on"; it's the opposite in the UK. I no longer go to the driver's door to get to the passenger seat, because for my hardwiring, in the US the driver sits on the "wrong" side. I'm still, even now, finding it difficult to use American terms for things like taps (faucets), car boot (trunk), footpath (sidewalk) and so on. American spelling comes and goes in my writing, depending on where, when and to whom it's directed. I'm not going to worry about stuff like that - I kid myself that it'll all add to my (ahem) old world..... charm.

Much cursing and complaining accompanied a four-year, very frustrating, trek through the US immigration process to citizenship. I'm thankful the trek is behind me now. If I'd known in 2004 what I know now, would I have tried to persuade my husband to stay in England with me? I sometimes think I should have done that. Had I succeeded (unlikely) I'd have missed such a lot by so doing. The USA is a vast and beautiful land - can't help but love it. I've left my shadow among the petroglyphs in Arizona's Painted Desert, stood inside The Alamo, explored the Anasazi dwellings at Mesa Verde, explored the wonderful Rocky Mountains National Park, beautiful Santa Fe, travelled in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming. Who'd have thunk it? And there's still more adventuring to be done.



Some attitudes here continue to rankle though, and I still have to perfect a way to ignore what irritates me most. "Take the rough with the smooth"....is the best advice for me I guess.

Emigration from my homeland was probably my destiny - my fate. A fortune teller told my mother, when I was still in early teenage, that I'd marry a foreigner and end my life abroad. I remembered it, but didn't ever really believe the last part. Marrying a foreigner wasn't difficult - I did it twice! I'd toyed with the idea of spending my retirement in Spain, but deep down knew that was not much more than a pipe dream.

If I could, would I go back to England? I ask myself this sometimes, then realise it's all hypothetical and hypothetical questions can be dangerous and misleading. There's nothing there for me, my family and loved ones are all gone. My family is here now. I can't go back, and that's good.

 Atop Mount Scott, Oklahoma

The other day I came across a card bought just before I left England. It bears this piece of prose by Vicki Silvers; I used to read it often. Perhaps a passing reader, who is also on the brink of a big life change, might find it helpful:

"There comes a time in your life when you realise that if you stand still, you will remain at this point forever. You realize that if you fall and stay down, life will pass you by. Life's circumstances are not always what you might wish them to be. The pattern of life does not necessarily go as you plan...

Beyond any understanding, you may at times be led in different directions that you never imagined, dreamed, or designed. Yet if you had never put any effort into choosing a path or trying to carry out your dream, then perhaps you would have no direction at all.

Rather than wondering about or questioning the direction your life has taken, accept the fact that there is a path before you now. Shake off the "why's" and "what if's", and rid yourself of confusion. Whatever was - is in the past. Whatever is - is what's important. The past is a brief reflection. The future is yet to be realized. Today is here.

Walk your path one step at a time - with courage, faith and determination. Keep your head up and cast your dreams to the stars. Soon your steps will become firm and your footing will be solid again. A path that you never imagined will become the most comfortable direction you could ever have hoped to follow.

Keep your belief in yourself and walk into your new journey. You will find it magnificent, spectacular, and beyond your wildest imaginings."


So, do I hear a faint voice asking (if any valiant reader has, indeed, made it this far) "how do you feel about living in the USA after what are now 11 years?" I feel fine - it was my destiny I guess, you don't argue with destiny - and I'm happy. Outside of my personal, home life though, rather than "taking the 5th" I'll echo Alice, courtesy of Lewis Carroll, whose birthday (27 January) I share:

...How are you getting on?' said the Cat......................
'I don't think they play at all fairly,' Alice began, in rather a complaining tone, 'and they all quarrel so dreadfully one can't hear oneself speak — and they don't seem to have any rules in particular; at least, if there are, nobody attends to them.'

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where —' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat
'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'

18 comments:

anyjazz said...

What a journey you've had. I'm glad I was a part of it, even if a small one. One thing about life is that the challenges are never tougher than we can handle. They seem insurmountable but when we come out on the other side, we think "Hm. That wasn't so bad. What's next?" This was a good year. Let's have a few more.

Sonny G said...

again,

another wonderful post and I thank you for sharing your journey with us.

you are an amazing woman ~!!!

mike said...

There is so much that we don't understand about life. We are fortunate, when toward the end of the journey, we see that the segments do connect, often in mysterious and magical ways, and find gratitude-satisfaction in the kismet that brought us to the surface of our being. All too often, individuals remain a prisoner in their fortress of intransigence, reinforcing the structure with pain, disappointment, and expectation. Life is more about going with the flow of change than finding permanency. Most of us retain a peculiarity in that we either don't want things to change or we desperately want change...LOL. The worst times in my life were primarily from not wanting to forfeit inevitable change that was for the better...aka wallowing in misery. Once life forced the changes, in retrospect, it was hard for me to understand why I held-on so tightly to the stagnant remnants.

My mother was interested in astrology, so I was exposed to it at an early age. My first realization about astrology was that it was about change and evolution. The effect of transits on the natal chart. It has always fascinated me that individuals seek astrological advice, then typically ignore it in favor of their desired outcome...or continue seeking advice from other astrologers until they find one that offers what they want to hear. Most of us know exactly what we should do, but seek outside counsel to substantiate our fantasy in lieu of reality.

Yes, we are all mad here on this Earth. I'm glad your ticket-to-ride has been a thrilling adventure, Twilight, with betterment as the years go by.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ You're much more than a small part. You (for your sins!) are the sum total of my journey - the terminus, and you're stuck with me! But we're not getting off the 'bus yet, I hope. We've a few more miles still to cover before dark. ;-)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Thank you so much for reading these posts! I feel as though I should now sing a few verses ....
"But more, much more than this
I did it My Way." :-)

Sonny G said...

Yes you did Annie~!!! and yes, you and AJ will continue on to do it your way for many, many a year...
If anything in my chart is true, its my cancer moon~!! and once someone is in my heart, I dont give them up, so see, ya gotta stick around cause I love ya.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Maybe I'm something of a mild control freak - I want my hand to, at least appear to be, on the ship's wheel. Most of the time I look only to the astrology of my own life in hindsight. Astrological winds could well be, and have always been, directing my course though.

I've tried to be pro-active rather than re-active - not always with excellent results, but we learn as we go. I like to think that I inherited some pro-active and wandering genes from both grandfathers. They each walked or hitched rides on wagons from the south of England to the north in their youth - to find work, rather than stagnating in the places they found themselves. :-)

Thanks for following the journey, mike, and for adding your own experiences as we travelled along.



mike (again) said...

Twilight, I naively assumed there will be at least one more post, "life in the USA", though you do provide some info in today's post and much more here-and-there in your archives. Your last line in the comment above sounds as if this post is biographical finito and the end of the series (gasp). If this is the conclusion, thanks for your essays...I've very much enjoyed the series! I just re-read your sentence in today's chapter about pleading the 5th regarding your personal, home life, so I guess this is THE END. Thanks!

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Well...I didn't really plan it this way, but it naturally happened to arrive at a reasonable end point, and I didn't want to sicken anyone of all this self-indulgence. LOL! It was my pleasure to write it and remembering it all was good, if a bit disorienting at times.

I'll probably try to think up something vaguely related to my personal experiences in the US for a few more Sat./Suns. It'll give me something to think about as subjects for weekend blogs, if y'all can stand it.

The comment about "the 5th", though, was about life outside of personal home life (i.e. politics and general Okie stuff!)
Outside of my personal, home life though, rather than "taking the 5th" I'll echo Alice...

We're expecting some real proper winter weather for the next day or two - you too I suppose, but maybe you'll be a tad warmer but still wild down there.


Sabina said...

What fun! (I just went back and caught up - been out of the loop lately, moving yet again.)

You have certainly matured into a beautiful woman - inside and out!

What adventures you had, too. I've met so many people who've scarcely been 50 miles from 'home' their entire lives.

Speaking of 5ths, I've got Aquarius there - and there are other correspondences of our charts that go some way to account for the enjoyment I find in your meanderings. I, for one, eagerly anticipate your continued sharing. Thanks, Twilight.

mike (again) said...

The big front has probably arrived at your door, but not mine...expected arrival in a couple of hours. We've had very warm temperatures in the 80s and extremely humid and foggy. The wind has been annoying and ferocious at about 50 MPH constantly the past several days. I saw that the OK-TX panhandle has blizzard conditions, working its way toward you. We are supposed to remain chilly (for us), with highs in the 50s, lows upper 30s and low 40s. I like the chillier weather, because I sleep so much better at night. I rarely use the central heating, so I'll be indulging in sweaters and heavier wear...we don't often have that opportunity here...LOL.

I'll look forward to your Saturday posts regarding the life-and-times of Twilight! A bit voyeuristic and vicarious on my part, but fits-in with my Scorpio.


Sabina - You are moving in the shadow of Mercury retrograde. Hopefully, you'll complete the transition before the actual retrograde. You say you are Libra (ascendant?), so the machinations of Mercury are perhaps in your 4th house. I typically don't heed Mercury retrograde periods, but I rarely do anything that would require heeding...LOL.

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ You're very kind - thank you! Also, thank you for your valiant binge-reading of my scribbles :-)

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, we have the front here now, very strong winds through the night and heavy rain - much colder. AccuWeather says we'll not get above 34 degrees today, 25 tonight (real feel 9 degrees!) and 29 tomorrow with "blowing snow". :-/
We have the furnace on, but anyjazz was still walking around the house wearing two hoodies, on atop t'other this morning...lol!

Sabina said...

Mike, don't know if you'll catch this but, gee, you gave me a scare about MercRx's shadow. I haven't been keeping up to date but knew it was coming - and my chart ruler; however, tho not Libra ascendant, Libra 1st and MercRx will be, indeed, in 4th; however, moved a few days before end November, it's just I don't recover as quickly as I used to (this after probs circa 100 or more moves so far this lifetime - Sagg on the 3rd and Jup cj Uran 10th Cancer, Moon 8th Taurus etcetc. Very tiring as the years go by, ie, decrepitude advances.)

mike (again) said...

Sabina - I'm a member of the frequent movers' club, too, but the past 25 years have found me in two residences, each over a decade, which feels like roots have taken hold. I've lived in many cities and states here in the USA over the years, with quite a number of residential changes within each city.

I was partially jesting regarding Mercury Rx. I haven't found a tremendous correlation with Mercury's motion and I have a Gemini Asc, Virgo Moon. I'm equally likely to suffer befuddlement and miscommunication at any time...LOL. I try my best to not sign any significant documents or make major purchases at the Rx, just in case, though there is rarely a time that I DO sign documents or make major purchases any more...a side-benefit of decrepitude by virtue of age.

I'll assume this is a beneficial transition for you, and you knocked it off right before the holidays, which is a big plus. Hope you stay there a while, if you desire.

mike (again) said...

P.S. Sabina - I wish you luck in your quest to stay ahead of the authorities...LOL.

Kaleymorris said...

I am so glad the fates, the planets ... YOU ... brought you to Oklahoma. I hope the personal makes up for the external.

PS: You look like the Little Prince standing atop Mt. Scott.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~ Me too! Oh yes, the personal easily makes up for it all. :-)

LOL - Little Prince eh? I think I was having trouble standing straight in the wind which always seems to be hurtling around up there. The photo reminds me of first verse of "The Solitude of Andrew Selkirk" by William Cowper:

I am monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute
O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.


;-)