I was a 90 day fiancée

I had grown up in malls in New Jersey, Trevor was a true outdoorsman raised in the wilds of northern British Columbia and Yukon. It was October. I had just driven from Marlton, New Jersey to Whitehorse, Yukon, almost entirely by myself. I was wearing shorts when I left; it snowed on arrival. My paperwork was delayed by 9/11.

For those who haven't tried it, immigrating to Canada is difficult and expensive - even if you are educated, skilled, in good health, and speak the language(s). It was easiest to become a permanent resident under a family class application - after all, we were already engaged. Under the Canadian immigration policy at that time, once I officially “landed” in Canada we had 90 days to officially tie the knot. Within a few weeks, my paperwork was complete and we drove across the border into Alaska and turned right back around to re-enter Canada. The 90 day clock started. Tick tock.

As my sponsor, Trevor signed an “undertaking” promising to look after me financially for SEVEN years, even if things went sideways. (Bold move Trevor!) But I was the one who was terrified. Looking back at the brief time we actually spent together before the legally required “big day”, I remember in detail the attributes of my fear. It was numbingly cold and decorated in pink, beige and grey. It smelled like canned tuna and was painfully quiet punctuated with interjections of jarring noises. Ninety days is just long enough to really freak out. The initial excitement of being together has time to wear off, illuminating the bad habits and bad attitudes that will form a future (lifetime?) of minor and not-so-minor irritations. And every moment is magnified when you are more than 3600 miles from home, it’s bone-chillingly cold outside and inside, and within a few weeks, you know you just have to get married. If you don’t get married, you will be deported and the love that is inextricably entwined with the fear will be gone forever.

There was a rental shortage when I arrived in Whitehorse, and my fiancé and I ended up in a trailer covered in lino and fake walls in pink, beige and grey. Some kind of animal had stripped out the insulation from under the floor at one end and the propane furnace was malfunctioning. When the temperature dropped to -42, I just sat on the floor in my coat and cried. At night, we would take our clothes off only seconds before climbing into his double sized bachelor bed and duck our heads under the covers to breathe warmth under the sheets. Trevor brought home a couch from a “friend” that was black velour with splashes of more pink and beige. It was ugly and uncomfortable. He didn’t do the dishes. He left the toilet seat up. He ate stinky canned tuna almost every day. And while the cold is surprisingly quiet, he composed heavy metal songs, loudly, spontaneously making the sounds of the instruments with his mouth.

Ninety day fiancées usually start out as long distance relationships, and our romance was no different. We did not meet online. You see, I was a bit wild(er) in my younger days. When I was 21, I took off on an ill-advised adventure from New Jersey to the Yukon with a guy I’ll just call Serious Trouble. I immediately met Trevor at a bar called the Kopper King. Trouble and I spent a lot of time there, which was the biggest reason he was trouble. Alas, I put in a few more years with Trouble and found myself back in New Jersey nursing my wounds. A mutual friend suggested I call Trevor, and BAM. Trevor and I talked about books and life and music for hours and house. Thank God for AT&T and four cents per minute, because our initial romance was spent blissfully pining for each other from afar for two years.

Well, a little bit of distance went a long way. Trevor and I celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary this month. If our marriage contract came up for renewal, I would marry him all over again with more joy and enthusiasm than I mustered the first time around.

Our first 90 days together tested our mettle early. We laughed through it, and we fought through it too. We grew and found our way together. Within a few months of the wedding, we bought our first house. It was a beautiful log home that actually came with a dog, a beautiful garden, and great energy. Life has not been without its challenges, but life is good. Our home is filled with love and books and music.

If you have read my writing before, you will know that I have an affinity for tying song lyrics to my posts. This time, I am sharing something very personal. I knew immediately that I would love the man that wrote this song, written just for me sixteen years ago. Here is the best kind of Valentine present:

I never thought I’d fall, for the girl so far away.
Out of sight is out of mind, or so they say
Absence makes the heart grow fond, so I understand
How do we find where we belong, when you’re there and here I am?

When you’re, miles away from me.
Still you’re miles away from me.

Something tells me deep inside, I can’t afford to lose this one.
Single chance comes once in life, has it just begun?
Reach across expanse and time, will I find you there
In your heart and in your mind, do you think that you’ll still care?

When you’re, miles away from me.
Still you’re miles away from me.

~ Trevor Dolhan ~


Laurie DolhanComment