Friday, November 11, 2005

The road to Montreal part 7

part 6

So there we were in Southern California in 2000 working from home and having settled into a life that seemed stable and secure. We had a house, a dog, and a business. We were thinking much less about being discovered.

That year we planned another vacation to Montreal, a two week getaway that would include the Jazz festival. We convinced some friends to come with us for the first week. This was the first time since Serge had been barred in 1995 that we decided to try to fly him in and out of Montreal. (instead of crossing the border by vehicle) We bought a one way ticket to Montreal and then a round-trip Montreal-LA so that he would have proof that he was "going back" to Canada. (Of course, we had no intention of using the return ticket, we treated it as a special tax on our situation) By now, Serge knew how to "properly" answer questions at the border. Five years had elapsed since he had been barred from reentry so we felt pretty confident about our chances.

Think you know what's going to happen? This isn't a movie you know, life is always more messy and complicated than that.

We went to Montreal July 1st. We showed our friends the town. As it turned out, these friends didn't like the city. Too foreign for them I guess. Once they left, Serge and I had another week to enjoy ourselves.

Now, throughout this seven year saga, Serge had always made a point to keep his Quebec Driver's license current, a key element for "proving" his Quebec residence status when crossing the border. Because it had expired, Serge went to the motor vehicle office to renew it. However, Serge had waited too long since the expiration and Quebec regulations required him to take a Driving Class in order to renew his card.

"But I don't understand, I do have a valid license." Serge says to the agent.

"From where?"

"From California."

"May I see it?"

"Sure." Serge takes out the license and puts it on the counter.

"Well then there's no problem. You are only permitted to have one North American Driver's license at a time."

"What? Wait. I don't understand."

"We'll send this one back to California and let them know you've moved back to Quebec. Now you can go stand in line for your photo."

And that was how he lost his only valid form of US I.D. that he posessed. What this meant was that driving in America would be a risk. In LA, driving is not a luxury, it's a requirement. (Remember, the laws had changed and it would now be impossible for him to get another California Driver's license.)

Suddenly, that cozy settled-in feeling was ripped out from under us. Poof, just like that.
By the time we got on the plane back to LA (with no trouble) I had come up with a new plan. Let's pack it up and move to Montreal.

A few months before, we had been invited to a seminar at the Canadian Consulate on "how to immigrate to Canada". I have no idea why we received this invitation or who knew this would interest us. At the seminar we learned that Canada sometimes gave "special consideration" for couples in our situation. In my mind, this became the back up plan if we were ever facing separation again.

I retained the services of a Vancouver lawyer to walk us through the process. He was very encouraging about my chances for acceptance.

In the ensuing six weeks, we sold all of our possessions save two bags of clothes and the dog (we rented out our house, the plan was to sell it if I were accepted to Canada). We said goodbye to California and arrived in Montreal on September sixth to start life over again from scratch. We found an apartment, furnished it with IKEA and I enrolled in French School.

The following August, I would receive my "permanent residency".

Last year, we married at City Hall in Montreal.

Currently I'm waiting for my citizenship application to be approved.

And that's why when someone asks me "Why did you move from LA to Montreal?" I usually say, "It's a long story." Now I can just refer them to the blog.

This concludes The Road to Montreal. I hope you enjoyed it. (And thanks to Psycho, for posing the question in the first place.)


The Wisdom of Wislon said...

City Hall sounds grand! Impressed by the 2 bags of clothes! I don't how men travel so light ;-)

Thanks for sharing your true story

have a good weekend with the doggie ;-)

_Psycho said...

Good story ! It was hard to understand why 2 persons would leave a sunny place for a cold one ;)

It was a really good reading. Now you have to tell us why he is the spouse and you are the husband (hehehe)!

Out of topic question, since you going in vacation at the same time as mine, you ever got vaccine, or you don't care ?

r said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
r said...

Selfishly, I wish things had worked out and you were still here in California. I miss you.

But, you're happy, and that's what's important.

My Cambridge Blog said...


I love Montreal. I've tried to immigrate myself a few times. I've applied for graduate school there and was rejected. I've applied for jobs there and have been rejected. I've dreamed and inquired for almost a decade with not much success. With your story, I'me filled with hope again. Presently, I don't have a 'spouse' in which to make the connection, but maybe one day I will. As for LA, I like Los Angeles, too. I might plan to live there for a spell, before making my pilgrimage to Montreal to stay permanently. We'll see. Someone argued 'Why leave sunny warm California, for cold Montreal?' I say 'When you love a place, the temperature really doesn't matter all that much.' And since I live in Boston (Cambridge, Massachusetts) I'm used to cold weather. So, Toronwardo, wish me luck! ;-)

St. Dickeybird said...

Wow, great story!
And here's a belated "welcome"!

epicurist said...

Ahh, finally. What a great story, and thanks for sharing it. COngrats on the permanent residency, the marriage, and the upcoming approval for citizenship.

Now that your Canadian, do you spell things things with an "ou" (ie. neighbour, colour)?

Eagle Eye said...

What a great story!

Eagle Eye said...

A great end to a great story. Thanks for sharing.

dantallion said...

What a great story. And thanks for sharing it. Here's wishing you many more adventures to come.

_Psycho said...

t: IKEA is like the biggest furnitures store in the world, Ingvar Kamprad, 6th richest person in the world: 23 billions.

They don't seem popular yet in the US thought.

micheal: good luck on that :)

Sunshine said...

Omg, I just read the story about how you came to settling in Montreal. It's so adventurous and exotic, it reads like a bestseller!! (I couldn't stop once I started). :D You're a fantastic writer. :)

Joel said...

OK...I have read the entire story and feel like I understand so much more now. I KNEW from your videos that you were likely American and Serge was probably Canadian but I didn't feel like I knew you well enough to point blank ask. Not sure how I missed this on your sidebar but am sooo glad I found it!

A Bear in the Woods said...

What a wonderful story. You SHould write it up as a memoir, as a testament to the obstacles that you guys love has overcome. It's beautiful. And, wow, Serge! Just to consider how much of your lives have been invested in your love for each other disarms me.
Thank you for that lovely story.

Anonymous said...

I love your story! I can't believe I've been reading this blog for so long and I've never read how you got to Canada.

Greg said...

Wow...what an adventure story!! The business of you sneaking over the border like the Von Trapps really had me going (especially since I lived for a while not far from that first McDonalds on the US side).

I'm so glad it all worked out for the two of you--I love that you took a pic of Serge that night...what a kid he looks like, so adorable!

Thanks for sharing this story...and nicely written, too!!

Anonymous said...

OMG, this is such an amazing story! Just like a movie. I love your blog. It's so interesting. And to think you guys went through so much together just to stay together:)


Luuworld said...

just finished reading the story. thanks you for sharing, it really made my day! i'm so glad you two are still together, it's a beautiful story.