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Posts Tagged ‘green card’

Back again, 24 years later

In aging, behavior, books, business, culture, domestic life, immigration, journalism, life, urban life, US, women, work on June 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

The women are still lean, in Tevas and cargo pants. The men wear beards and drive pick-up trucks. The kids are plentiful.

I used to live up here, far from a big city. Muddy Subarus everywhere. Ads at the local cinema for a tattoo parlor. I knew Route 89 like the back of my hand.

I came to live in New Hampshire, in a small town, in the summer of 1988, with no prior experience of rural or small town life. I’d always lived in large cities: London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto. The absolute silence of our street was astonishing.

I followed the American man I would marry in 1992 — and who would walk out of our apartment, and our marriage, barely two years later.

The woman who lived here 24 years ago was terrified.

She — I — had left behind her country, friends, family, a thriving career. My whole identity. Anyone who moves to a new country “for love” better have a Teflon soul, a full bank account of her own and the stamina for re-invention.

I remember exactly how I felt as I crossed the border into the U.S. from Canada to move here — like a raindrop falling into an ocean. The United States has a population 10 times that of Canada. Surely I would simply disappear, never to be heard from, or of, again.

How would I ever re-build my career? New friendships? A sense of belonging? Who would I be(c0me)?

And so I used to look at all the women here — almost every one of them mothers or pregnant — apparently so secure in their identity and their marriages, roaming in packs.

I didn’t want children, and everyone here did, eagerly. I’ve never, anywhere — not even far, far away in foreign countries — felt so alien, isolated and disconnected. There were no jobs for which I was qualified. I knew not a soul. My boyfriend, then a medical resident, was always gone, returning home exhausted and grouchy.

That we were unmarried, even then un-affianced, seemed to make everyone deeply nervous. What was it, 1933?

It was the loneliest I’ve ever been.

I did love our apartment, the entire ground floor of a big old house. I did a lot of sailing. I spent every Friday at the local auction house and learned a lot about antiques.  Eager for more, I drove 90 minutes each way to Massachusetts to take a class in it there. For amusement, alone, I drove the back roads of Vermont and New Hampshire. I drew. I even drove every Monday back to Montreal to teach journalism.

But, after 18 months of my best efforts, I was desperate to flee, to re-claim a life that made some sense to me, socially, professionally and intellectually. So we moved to New York, just in time for the (then) worst recession in journalism in decades. After six relentless months of job-hunting and with no contacts to help me, I found a magazine editing job that required my French and Spanish skills. I’d never edited a magazine before.

Coming back now, I sat in the sunshine at the farmer’s market, listening to a band play bluegrass and eating a slice of wood-fired- oven-made pizza. I stared at all those mothers with their babies and their swollen bellies — and felt at ease.

I’d gone to New York. I’d achieved my dreams, surviving three recessions; in 2008, 24,000 fellow journalists lost their jobs nationwide.

Achieving my dreams would have been impossible here, then. There was, in practical terms, no Internet or cellphones. Social media barely existed. And no one had ever heard of me or read my by-line.

Nor had I yet paid my American dues — attending all those meetings and panels and conferences, getting to know editors, serving on volunteer boards, showing up, landing a few good jobs, getting fired, getting other jobs, getting laid off. Finding an agent, and then another one, and then another. Selling two well-reviewed books. Mentoring other writers.

It felt sweet to sit in the sunshine here, now, content in having done what I’d hoped to and which looked impossible, here, nestled deep within these green hills.

I no longer have to prove myself to anyone here.

Especially myself.

My Ten Favorite Things

In antiques, business, design, Style, travel on September 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm
Closeup of silk-upolstered gilt Louis XVI Rhin...
Image by mharrsch via Flickr

In no particular order:

My Canadian passport. It’s nice to have a whole other country with quality, affordable healthcare and education.

My green card. Which is now, in fact, green. It allows me the freedom to live and work in the U.S., affording me wider opportunities than my beloved, albeit much smaller country of origin.

French-made crutches. For the first time in nine months, I am pain-free while using these, because I am not placing pressure on my arthritic hip. These crutches are everything you could possibly want: light, comfortable, waterproof, thickly padded. If you ever need to buy a pair, here’s where I found them.

Viactiv calcium chews. Any woman who has to gulp down fistfuls of calcium pills every day knows what a pain they are. These chocolate-flavored cubes give you all the calcium and Vitamin D you need in a quick, easy, tasty bite.

Braun juicer. Perfection. Mine is more than 20 years old and I can’t imagine a better design: place the half-fruit you want to juice, press down. Done!

Louis XVI reproduction dining chairs from my favorite catalog, Wisteria. Simple, elegant, comfortable. The style and color mix easily with a wide range of other designs.

Maja soap. Created in 1921, these round, olive-green bars of Spanish soap last forever, and smell divine as they do.

Hesperides soap, made by Fresh, and sold at Sephora stores. The scent is crisp, clean, citrusy. The Cote d’Azur in your hand.

Marvis toothpaste. Tart, strong, not slimy or sweet. Made in Italy, with a gorgeous package.

Open Skies. I rarely evangelize for any airline, (who could?)  but you have to treat yourself to this one, just once. Take a 777 that seats 300 — and reconfigure it for about 80. Now add seats so wide you can easily tuck your leg beneath you. This all-business-class carrier offers real food served on china. Good wine in a glass. To die for!

What are some of yours?

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