part 5 4 3 2 1
We drove across the country in six days. It had been a big gamble planning for the crossing and had it not worked, I can't say for certain that I would be living here in Montreal today. As it was, those first hours on the road after the McDonald's rendez-vous were of an exuberance difficult to describe. The laws designed to keep us apart made everthing so much more "prickly with life", like every moment from there on out was stolen. Within a few hours though, as night came on, we found ourselves passing No Vacancy signs everywhere and here and there cars that had spun off the road. Freezing rain storm! We had to get off the road quickly. That was how we ended up spending New Year's Eve in a Pennsylvania Truck Stop room and toasting 1995 at midnight, the rumble of bigrigs a constant hum just outside.
Because my car was not equipped with winter tires, we headed due south before heading west. The next five nights were spent in Knoxville Tenn., some-small-ass-town in Arkansas, Dallas, Carlsbad NM, and Blythe CA. The best part of the road trip was the stop at Carlsbad Caverns. Other than that though, it was driving drudgery 10-12 hours per day.
We arrived at Em's house dirty and exhausted and camped there for the next month on the floor of the den. I collected my game show winnings and started looking for a job and apartment. I found two waiter jobs rather quickly and we rented a cute apartment in Long Beach. Serge also began working and changing jobs whenever suspicion was aroused about his status. (Usually, a letter from the Social Security Administration.) 9 months later, with a little parental help, we purchased an old house and began renovating it. Serge did most of the renovating between jobs while I moved into management (again). We added Sara to the family, rescuing her from the shelter. We would call this place home for the next 5 years replete with the trials and tribulations you would expect for a couple of people in our situation*.
The problem with living like that is always the future. Because at any moment your lives could be ripped apart and so it was difficult to think about "next year" because we never knew what that would look like. During those years, we made two other visits to Montreal. Both times we employed a similar strategy for Serge to come "home". Both times were nail-biters.
By the beginning of 2000, we had gone into business for ourselves, creating web-sites from home under the name drafter.com. We were less afraid of being "found out" as all the income for the business went on my tax returns. We were getting used to life there. Little did we know all of that was about to change.
(Final part 7 coming soon)
*Trials and tribulations. While I am trying to stick with events that seem relevant to my journey here, that doesn't mean that years pass inside a vacuum. If you care to read them, here are a few notable asides to the story.
- asked a single friend Natalie, to marry Serge in exchange for free rent in our home for a period of two years. She declined and later felt bad about it when she was still single two years later.
- illegal immigrants are a huge source of controversy in the news in California, we were reminded of it constantly. Laws began becoming more strict in an effort to make it more difficult for immigrants to stay. Driver's licenses were more difficult to obtain (though Serge had his from before the law change).
- a visit to an immigration lawyer was depressing, there appeared to be no possibility of him staying legally, and Canada is excluded even from the lottery.
- a friend of my dad's met a Russian lady on-line, flew to Russia and met her, then married her, and brought her and her 9 year old son back to the states. It all happened in a matter of a few months and she was here working, her son in public school. This was the seed that turned me against my country. Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For some, apparently.
- Lots of great things happened too like our wonderful network of friends, the White Party in Palm Springs, the weddings, the new babies, all the goodness of life. The beach and climate, Halloweens on Santa Monica Blvd., the skiing in sweatshirts, the proximity of family. I could go on, but you get the idea.