Hello friends, family, kind and loving strangers.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? David and I met in the Fall of 2003. He had recently moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend a bicycle mechanics trade school; I was diving head first into my first semester at Chapman University in Orange, California. We had never met, and likely never would have if not for the wonders of the internet.
Most of you are familiar with, or have heard of, the social media website MySpace. Well, back in 2003 it was brand spankin’ new and connecting people all over the world. You didn’t have to know each other in person, have gone to school with, or be connected through friends of friends to make new connections at that point. You could search for people interested in the things you were interested in and BOOM, connection made. Neither David nor I can remember exactly who friend-ed whom, or how we made it to each other, but it was likely our love for nostalgic cartoons (Power Rangers, anyone?) that eventually linked the two of us together. Thus, sending us on the longest, most adventurous love story we ever could have imagined.
Over the course of the next eight years David and I were virtual pen pals. We chatted and connected over relationships gained and lost, concerts attended, movies watched, hopes and dreams both big and small. In the early months of 2011, David asked if I’d like to have coffee with him via Skype. That video coffee date led to many more. Soon we were spending all of our free time glued to our computer screens, chatting on our cell phones and dreaming of a world without borders where we could be together.
In June of 2011, we decided to take a giant leap. I sold all of my belongings, quit my job, and got on a plane headed for Victoria, BC. I stepped onto Canadian soil with my suitcase naively packed full of sundresses, ready to meet the love of my life in person for the very first time. We had planned this meeting down to the very last detail: our eyes meeting across the crowded baggage terminal, the run-jump-catch-hug that would swing us in circles as the travelers around us watched. I don’t need to tell you that that is obviously not how it went. This isn’t the movies, ya know. I had looked around for him for quite some time and resolved to find him after I had gathered my things. While waiting for my luggage to come around to me, I felt a tap tap on my shoulder and knew. This was it. Here he was. I was so nervous that I awkwardly hugged him (too tight, arms in all the wrong places) and kissed him quickly on the cheek (more on his neck, if I’m being honest… I was so nervous, he’s lucky I didn’t puke on him instead).
So began our whirlwind romance in Canada-Land. Over the next two years we hopped back and forth between Victoria, BC and Oceanside, CA, before finally being stopped by Canadian immigration in August of 2012. We were lucky to meet with a Canadian border guard who was having a very good day, he told us he’d allow me to enter Canada, with the promise that we would seek out a proper visa. We rejoiced! We filled out what felt like a million pages of official documents, became legal Common Law partners, and mailed it all to Ottawa, Ontario with fingers crossed. In March of 2013, we got the best news- I had a Temporary Resident Visa that would allow me to be in Canada legally until December 30, 2013. We were elated. For the next few months we made sure to make the most of our time there. We travelled to Kamloops, BC to visit with David’s mum, Jacki, and to the house he grew up in at Pinantan Lake, BC. I met his stepfather, Bill, and spent time with his brother John and his partner and heard the wondrous news that they’re expecting their first child in February. We attended weddings and travelled all over the island we called Home.
As my visa’s limit came to an end, we made the choice to seek greener pastures in my home State of California. Our plan was to stay with my family while seeking the guidance of a lawyer to see about getting a visa for David similar to the one I had held in Canada. We gave notice at our apartment, the apartment David had resided in for 9 years. We sold off our furniture and David left his job. We happily packed all our things into boxes and shipped them off to his mum’s house for safe keeping until we had a more permanent residence. We put our warmest weather clothing into three suitcases, said goodbye to our friends whom we love like family, and headed for the Victoria Clipper (a ferry that sails between Victoria, BC and Seattle, WA).
While going through US Customs before boarding our ferry, we ran into some trouble. As it turns out, because we had filed Common Law (which we had to do in order for me to apply for my Temporary Resident Visa) David would no longer be able to enter the US for pleasure trips. He would forever be regarded as a Canadian citizen attempting to immigrate to the United States, and unless he had a visa and could prove his ties to his home country he would not be permitted to cross any US borders. The US border guard who was handling our attempted entry went as far as to accuse us of “playing house,” told us we were lucky she didn’t ban him from entering the US for up to five years, and that we needed to “get married, pick a country and stay there.” The conversation was ended by her telling us that David would not be allowed to pass through to the US that day, or any day for the next three months. With two days left on my visa, we were devastated.
With no job and no apartment to go back to, we turned to our circle of friends who graciously agreed to house David until he could find a suitable place to live. In the mean time, I boarded the ferry bound for Seattle, heartbroken and without my other half. It’s been four days, and while we are weathering this storm of anger and sadness as best we can, we are determined to be productive. David was able to see an immigration lawyer in Victoria, who said that we have more than enough proof of the validity of our relationship, and could file for my Permanent Residency in Canada. If all goes well with the filing I could be back in Victoria, with David, by the end of March. When he told me on the phone after their meeting, I wept, overcome with the joyful thought of once again being by his side.
While asking for financial help is not something David and I are comfortable with, it’s our only option. The fees that come along with hiring a lawyer and filing governmental documents are high, and need to be paid quicker than we could ever dream of earning them. The internet once gave us the ultimate gift of love by connecting us in the first place; we thought we would see if we could rely on it for help just one last time. In total we need to pay $8500, with the first $2000 being due on January 31st, a mere 28 days away. We are both working our hardest to earn enough money to cover it in our respective countries, but any help you could give would be worth its weight in gold to us.
We thank each and every person who has taken the time to read our story, and if you are able to donate (big or small, even your morning coffee money would help) know that you are giving your hard earned money to good people, with the best intentions. You can donate by clicking the “Donations for David and Emily” link at the top. We love each other very much and only want to be able to share our lives together. We hope that you and yours are happy, healthy, safe, and holding hands this New Year.
Love and warm regards,
David and Emily