While it may seem that it's taking a long time to get this story out, trust me I'm skipping lots. There was the earthquake in January 1994 that brought the city to a standstill, there was the crazy (in the insane way) roommate, Lisa, whom Serge lived with, and there was the game show I went on with my roommate. I guess it's important to mention the game show, because this little event ended up playing a role in what happened next. To recap. Went to Hong Kong, fell in love, brought Serge to Los Angeles and five months later, during a visit to Montreal, Serge is blocked at the border and barred from reentering the US for five years.
I came home from the ill-ended vacation depressed and angry at the world. I went to Serge's apartment roommate and explained the situation, boxed up his things and sent them to Montreal. Serge and I spoke often, and he went to work finding a job and an apartment in Montreal. I had recently auditioned for Supermarket Sweep with my roommate James, and we were called to do the show in March. We ended up being the biggest winners in the history of the show. (I think they reran our show thousands of times on the Lifetime channel, so maybe you've seen it.) Which wasn't much, it being a pretty low budget game show. We won a car each plus some cash. I wouldn't be able to get the car and cash until December when the show was due to air. I was 29 and had about $8,000 in the bank. I decided that I would like to spend the summer with Serge in Montreal and see if we could figure out how to make a future together. The Ritz Carlton said "NO!" to my three-month leave of absence request, so I basically said, "Fuck you then, I'm quitting." You give a company five of the best working years of your life, and they treat you like that. Shame on them. Not that I'm bitter or anything, because you couldn't pay me enough to work for them now.
On June 17th, after having put my things in storage and quitting my job, I drove my toyota pickup to Montreal. Serge lived in a very small one bedroom apartment right in the heart of Montreal near the village. There was trouble adjusting at the beginning, nearly five months apart had been a long time, and well, let's just say that I almost drove back home to California that first week. Ah, but I fell even more in love with Montreal in the summertime and got to see the amazing festivals and night life in July and August.
Serge loves this picture, it's of me in the fall of 94 riding the chairlift at Mont Tremblant.
I took beginner French and got a job working under the table at a restaurant to extend my stay. Serge really wanted to go back to California with me while I wondered about staying in Montreal. But how?
We came up with a new plan.
Me: I know! New Year's Eve, New York City, at the border they'll just wave you through.
Serge: Not in your car. It's from California.
Me: How about a friend of yours? They can just turn around and come back after you're through. I'll drive through alone.
Serge: Hard to ask someone that.
Me: Your friends know our story, they would be happy to help. Just ask.
And he did ask. And they were happy to help. And on December 31st, my car loaded with our things, Serge in a car with friends ahead of me, we approached the US border. Our plan was to rendez vous at the first Mc Donald's on the other side should either of us get detained. Serge and his friends were waved through. I was stopped and searched thoroughly. At the Mc Donald's just a couple miles down the road, I met Serge and his friends. Serge hopped into the car, and we drove and drove and drove to a new chapter in our lives together.