Today, October 10, 2013, I became a Permanent Resident of Canada.
The worst part of the process was the waiting. I’ve become a more patient and accepting person (stop laughing! have so!) since I fell in love with a man who committed to the military before he committed to me. I’ve learned a lot about how to “hurry up and wait.” However, the inconsistency of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in processing PR applications meant I had no real idea of how long the process was going to take. And that was torture. We actually ended up getting very lucky (I landed two weeks shy of a year from the date our inland application was received), but there were four long months of silence from CIC after I first expected to see some progress on our application.
There are still a lot of unknowns in life. Being married to the military, there always will be. I’m in a military French course at the base. I’m in stage one, and it goes through stage five, but I won’t ever know if I get to progress to the next stage until the day before it starts. I may be in class through July. Or my class may end in less than two weeks. So I go to class each day, hope for the best, and wait to know more. We are thinking about taking a vacation, a real HONEYMOON (I don’t count our military house-hunting trip to Northern Québec or our 3000km drive to the same region as a “honeymoon”), in the summer of 2014. However, we’re waiting to see if the leave he has already submitted is approved before requesting more leave so we can actually book the trip. (Cross your fingers for me; if I was much better behaved in a prior life than I have been in this one, I’ll turn 34 in the Dominican Republic, at a resort with no children allowed and bars – yes, plural! – in the pool.) So we wait. But the hardest wait in memory has finally ended.
I can’t book the trip today, and airfare is quite expensive, so I’m not sure when I’ll go, but SOON I can start thinking about flying back to see my family. I need my PR card (takes 60-80 days after landing to receive it, *IF* CIC doesn’t screw anything up) before I can travel commercially. But even if I can’t book the trip right away, knowing that I soon can is an amazing feeling of relief and freedom. My sister is one of my best friends, and I tear up just thinking about how great it will feel to actually hug her again. And I’ve missed over half of my nephew’s young life. I can’t wait to see him and have him get to know his Tantie Meg a little bit. I know the first trip back will be bittersweet, as the world has moved on without me, and the full, bustling, crazy-fun life I left behind there exists only in my memory. But there are still some nears and dears that I hope will make time for me when I make it back. And I’m starting to think about heading to New York next month (I can drive freely back and forth with the paperwork I have now).
For a period of many months, time seemed to stand still. Days passed, but each week was the same, and the months brought no progress toward a time when I could travel more freely, and take more French classes, and even work (if I can ever find work in this region). But time is finally marching forward again. Granted, it brings with it another long, dark Québec winter. But I’m not scared of winter anymore. I won’t love taking that first, painful breath of outside air when it’s -20°C (-4°F, a pretty common temp in the winter here, and that’s WITHOUT the windchill that Canucks love to throw in without mentioning it). I won’t love having to start blow drying my hair again in the morning, or risk having it freeze when I go out to my car to head to class. But I know I’ll make it through. And maybe this year I’ll even learn to use the back edge of a snowboard!
Thank you, Canada, for granting me permission to live here with my best friend. I never imagined life would bring me here, but I’m happy, and I’m ready for whatever else life decides to throw our way.