Friday, April 23, 2010

Running Away again

Blooming Peaches had a very good question for the last post. The question was

so did the situation create a rift between you two or was it the two of you guys against the entire community?

did anything good happen when you moved in lol? you only talk about the frustrations... i am curious if you were happy with your decision at all

The truth is, I was pretty miserable living there even for a short time. The first few days we were together were great. I was always on a huge high when he picked me up from the airport, so excited and happy and relieved to be together again. The problem was, the reality of the pressure around us really got to M. He would get depressed because of the accusations and the looks he got every time he went to the mosque. For M, the mosque is a huge source of comfort. It is where he goes to feel better, he feels peaceful there and for the other people in the mosque to take that away, it was just too much for him.

In addition to this, the main language in his province was French, and I only speak English and Spanish and French is not one of the five languages M speaks. It was an all-around uncomfortable experience. M always said he considered me his ally, but sometimes when everyone around you is against your ally, your ally doesn't look all that great to you, see my point?

At any rate, after the egging experience and the fight that triggered it, I was sure I could not live in M's town and was certain that I was going home at the end of the summer. I immediately updated my resume and called my employer back. By the end of the first month I was there, my school system had scheduled me for school interviews. My old school even called me back to offer me my old job back, which I happily declined. I hated that job.

I started really pushing hard for M to get the required divorce certificate from his parents and by early July, after four and a half months they finally sent it and I was able to submit it to the US Consulate in Montreal. As soon as I sent it, they placed our case in Administrative Processing. This means they again had to verify the validity of the document and this time it would be sent to Islamabad Pakistan. In research I discovered that Administrative Processing could take as long as "they" wanted. Six months later, we still would not have an answer as to the validity of the certificate.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Opposite of Over Easy. . .

It's funny the things that I remember from those years. Memories get a little hazy over time, but some things I remember very clearly. The other day, I was washing dishes and flashing back to the day that M flew to Pakistan. I had that first immigration package all signed and copied and ready to go. I was so excited, that I carried it away from the airport with me knowing that as soon as I got into the US I would mail it.

I felt so independent staying in a hotel alone the night after I dropped him off. . . .I got up the next morning in this teeny tiny town determined to find a post office to mail it from. I had asked directions and smiled the whole time I walked around half-lost thinking that this one day of extra time was going to make things faster than waiting to mail it tomorrow when I got home. Even then I had this strange feeling that something was not right. . .but I had no idea what was in store for us.

I had no idea what I was getting into trying to "live" with hubby in his little apartment. Okay, my husband is Muslim (*gasp*) and I am not, at all. M's apartment was right across the street from the local mosque, not just the local mosque, the regional mosque, the biggest one in the province. It was a mostly Pakistani mosque with a large Egyptian and small Arab population. On Fridays and Sundays the streets were especially full, but it was pretty busy every day, all day. At any time you could find bearded and robed men seated on the front steps, often having heated discussions, about what I will never know, they were always in Arabic or one of a variety of South Asian dialects.

If you think the white girl gets stared at while travelling in Pakistan or Egypt or wherever, that is nothing compared to the white girl who suddenly appears with the Muslim who lives across the street from the mosque. Not just any Muslim who lives across the street from the mosque. . .the muslim who has attended this moque for more than eight years and knows EVERYONE, but refuses to talk about . . . the white girl.

Because the mosque had refused to perform our marriage, they somehow got the impression that we just didn't get married, and this made things all the worse. There were members who would follow us down the street staring at us, people who would sit across from us at the restaurant and stare at us and people who only stared at us as we walked in and out of the building. One guy was so obvious that I walked backwards down the street so that I too could stare at him. Once, M got so angry that he had to talk to one man in our favorite restaurant, and he stopped.

It was bad enough that we got reports from two of our closest friends about conversations they had with members of the mosque where they had to "defend" us by testifying on the validity of our marriage. One particularly nasty neighbor made claims to THE IMAM of the mosque about our "illegal" acts. . . those of a marital nature. The stress level in our house was pretty high with all of these stories. I thought they were funny, but M was a lot more sensitive about it. He was the one who had to be questioned and confronted about it in a place, the mosque, that he had once considered a peaceful and safe place to go.

Everything culminated into one big fight wherein M did something really, really stupid. I will not post it here, but I was angry enough to make a complete fool of myself in a manner loud enough to be heard by the entire building where we were living. . .this is not saying much, since I could always hear the kids upstairs rolling in an office chair and was a party to every phone conversation the Egyptian next door ever had. . .but it was loud enough that when we were finished I walked outside to find my car, egged.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I spent a lot of time thinking about that divorce certificate. Was it real? If it was not real, did M know? What would happen to the case if it turned out that the certificate was a fake? Were we not really married? We had used the divorce certificate M's family sent us as proof when we got married. I was exhausted after the interview. I had only slept for about two hours during the snowstorm because I kept tossing and turning. I wanted to make sure I woke up early enough to make it to the interview and now, one of my "worst case scenarios" had actually come true. There was absolutely nothing I could do but wait.

What if the divorce certificate was real, but the consulate wouldn't accept it? What if we couldn't get M's family to obtain the real certificate? We'd already looked online for ways to obtain it and it was not a possibility. Would M have to go back again to Pakistan just to get the certificate? What would happen if he went? What if, he was still married to that woman, he went back there and obtained a better fake divorce certificate. . .

I could. not. sleep.

Two weeks later I was back home in the US when the letter from the consulate arrived. The certificate we had submitted was not enough. We would have to submit a certificate from the Union Council over the area where the woman lived, hundreds of miles away from M's family and thousands of miles from where I sat at that moment, angry and crying. I called M and yelled at him.

It was the last week of February, my work contract was up in June. As a teacher, the contracts are renewed year by year. I hated the school where I worked. The county didn't allow first year teachers to transfer and I was lonely. I made a decision that I was moving to Canada. M was certain he could get the certificate, but I had no faith. I typed up my resignation and started making plans. I would move the furniture from my apartment to M's barren apartment in Canada. I would get out of my lease early and save a little bit of cash to make a start. I would spend the summer in Canada and we would start the paperwork for my immigration. We would not stop M's paperwork, but it would be our own little "race" to see which would finish first. We still didn't have the new divorce certificate from Pakistan and it had been nearly four months.

I would come back to the US and work as a Paramedic while we waited. June came, and I drove straight to M's home from work. We were going to live together for the first time as husband and wife and I was excited, we had been married more than a year.