Musings of Anna1liese

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JULY 20, 2011 8:39PM

Choosing

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“ I need to ask you if you fully appreciate ...”  or words to that effect kept floating through my mind when I saw a recent prompt.  Too many other emotions floated then for me to pretend to write a piece.

 

I had had the temerity to fall in love with an Englishman.  When he asked me to marry him, I said yes.  I thought what mattered was the being in love, the loving, the willingness to share a life.  Silly, silly me.

 

Here, just before we married, we had to go to the British Embassy in New York.  I don’t remember any longer whether it was to prove that they should allow me in or risk losing him to America.  Perhaps it was to stamp my passport and allow me limitless entry.

 

How do you stand in an office and prove to someone that you love.  British Embassy.  I expect there was tea.  Before we left, we, our love, had won approval.  I had my stamp.

 

Could he have come here.  No.  He had no love for my country.  Later I wondered if he’d had love for ....  I didn’t see that then.  

 

More importantly than anything else, he had two little girls.  We needed to be there.

 

He ran a small coach company.  In England he could afford to run it.  Here, in the States, it would be completely out of reach.  So you give up all you have and all you know.  It doesn’t feel like giving up despite what others say.  You do it because home is only where your heart is and mine was there with him.

 

*****

 

Five years on - watersheds.  So many all at once.  My mother’s death.  My father’s health.  A nursing home found.  A family home gone.

 

Just home from all of this and receiving the call about my father’s leg, I learned of one more thing over which I had no control.  Immigration laws were being changed in the UK.  No more was said.  Could be far-reaching.  Could be anything.  No one seemed to know.

 

So much loss brought thought of life.  Hope of life.  What if ....  What if ... there should be a child.  What if ... there should be a war.  Who could stay and who must go.  Is there only loss.

 

One opening was applying for British citizenship.  Many there have dual citizenship.  My husband saw no need of fuss.  I don’t remember step by step.  Something about 31 December that year.  1987.  I remember the solicitor’s office, the solicitor who advised my husband not to add my name to the ... whatever it was ... of the house.  What if it didn’t last ....

 

At some point I pledged an oath to the Queen.  That must have been after she had accepted me.

 

Somehow I learned, perhaps from the solicitor, that I needed to notify my embassy.  So to London.  Good thing my husband, someone, came with me.  Pages and pages of forms to fill out.  Most American wives who were facing the same dilemma were doing exactly the same thing.  The embassy people knew all of this.  Still.  

 

Fill the forms.  Hand them in.  Wait.  Someone will need to speak with you.

 

When he came, we didn’t go inside to an office or a room.  There wasn’t any tea.  He called me to an unused part of the counter, looked across it and spoke to me.

 

“Do you fully appreciate that if you move forward with this application for British citizenship, whatever your reason may be, that you may jeopardize, risk losing, your American citizenship.  We can give you no advice.  We simply must verify that you have been informed and completely understand.  Do you.”

 

Quite honestly, regardless of my personal emotional state, I remember losing any sense of who I was, or who I had until that moment, believed myself to be.  I had never imagined then returning to the States, but this ...   this ....   I had to stand there, on my own, look this man straight in the eye and tell him ... yes.  I understood I was risking the loss of my American citizenship.  Yes.  Would you not sacrifice anything if there were the slightest chance that one day even as a clock ticked by that you might have a child ... in this country you had chosen ... in this country that you loved.  Would you allow anything to one day possibly tear you away ....  Yes.  I understood.

 

I lost my father that next month.  He didn’t live long enough for me to find a way to bring him closer or to know whether or not I could.  Would Medicare follow him.  Would Social Security or his pension.  How did any of that work back then.  

 

I never told him what I’d done.  I carried his hat and the folded flag back with me.

 

All the world was spinning.  Much limbo.  And then the wait.  Two years.

 

At some point the Queen accepted me.

 

Then there came a letter from the US Embassy.  The letter.  I think I had been called back not long before to fill out a thousand pages more.  Everyone had smiled at me.  They all knew what I was doing and why.  I and so many others.

 

I unfolded the letter and began to read.  “We are (happy?  relieved?  glad?  some disarming word)... you have lost your US citizenship ....  Sincerely ....”

 

Thanks to filing my parents’ last income tax returns I had learned the Embassy’s number by heart.  “Oh!!!!” they said.  “Not!!!!”  “There should have been a “not!”  “We’ll send a corrected copy and we are so sorry ....”

 

*****

 

Most.  Least.   I dared to fall in love.  And when the love died, I dared to come back where no one knew what to do with me.  Home.  Not where I thought it might be.  Not even now.  I seem to have imagined home.

 

Most often I imagine home by the sea, by a sea that loves me, by a sea that never doubts me, by a sea that calls my name.  A sea that has no boundary, just tides and waves, ebbs and flows, storms and calm.  My sea.  Life sea.  Home.  

 

 

 

 

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Comments

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How sad...a wandering life...without belonging
With the dirge droning in the background, all the pretty words are like dreams and visions. Knowing their fate makes them no less lovely. This is beautifully written, Anna Liese.
They left out the "not"? Just one simple little word... sounds almost like a Gilbert & Sullivan plot device. I hope you don't mind my laughing out loud. Honestly.

Extraordinary.
I seem to have imagined home

Anna1liese, I can only imagine the sadness and emptiness of your written words ... your story ... is only half of that which you would have felt.

You have a unique and beautiful writing style, Annaliese.

You, dear friend, are unique and so very, very beautiful.
What we do for love and what we do for home. Great post.
Rated.
Lovely ones. Thank you for reading this. I almost came back and drew it out. I kept knowing the conflict moves here ... just as it moves in me. Not always but as I think of this. When did you feel most American was the prompt and something about the wording caught me. I never sense this feeling. I never have. And yet as I held the words a moment, I began to see that counter and remember the agent’s eyes. Most American. Least American. Where do you fit in a moment like this. Where do you ever really fit again. And does it matter. When can we allow that we are all members of one planet and that perhaps some of our energy would best be served here.

If not for those words ... I don’t remember the last time I thought of any of this. Sometimes stories come back to you because they are so familiar to you. Not this.

It matters to me that I have both though robbers stole my citizenship paper and my passport when they broke in and took everything else a while ago. Perhaps it is finally time to fill out forms and recover what is gone. The decree absolute went as well. I don’t need to know that again but might I ever need the paper.

Maybe there are reasons why I look for rainbows. Maybe there are reasons why they come to me. Last week on someone else’s birthday I came home to find flowers waiting. For me. From the girls. When I saw the card, I decided they wanted to catch me off guard. They did! How incredibly lucky am I that all these years later and they love me.

Pieces of paper have nothing to do with love. Love. Rainbows. The sound of waves lapping against the shore. Air that is easy and free to breathe. Hands willing to reach and hold. Being able to speak and being allowed to hear. Love. I choose these.
Forgive me for this meander, but once it bubbled up, I had to find a way to look at it, albeit with shadows in place, to see if I can let it go or find my way through.
OMG that is such a shock and more...farewell!
I've come back to respond and suddenly there are only tears. I didn't mean it to be sad. Maybe there are reasons why I've not thought of this. I will come back and I am grateful for your words.
What a story! And how movingly told: we are with you at each step, just as dazed when you are asked questions, just as adrift when you are given warnings, just as shocked by that letter. As you say in your comment: "Pieces of paper have nothing to do with love." Indeed. Imagine there's no countries . . . .

This was lovely and wrenching, searching and true, and poetic.
Here's what I read: you are daring.
I sit not far from consonantsandvowels: I read strength and an impossibly big heart. There is sadness here, to hear, for sure, but something about your voice makes me happy to inhabit the same world as you. And that brings me joy though I do shed a tear for you, right now.
I never became a citizen of Canada because I feared getting a paper saying I had lost my citizenship here in the US Anna.
But I feel the sadness in these words of yours. I also hear the lapping of the sea....
This was a lovely, lovely piece, anna. Oh, the decisions we make in life and the reasons for making them are so interesting.
Helvetica, Thank you for your thoughts and for your reading. Your words give me pause for they surprise me and make me wonder if there is something I don’t let myself see. I wrote here of giving up what I knew to marry and begin a new life, but isn’t that what many of us do. There have been many moments of sadness, but if we live and if we love, sadness is one colour of the rainbow. Only one.

I gained so much. Two little girls, now grown, love me. They allow me to be part of their lives. They are part of what fills my rainbow. All of my rainbows.

There was a sadness. There is a sadness, but because I lived away, because I committed to a life away, I have a sense of the world as home. I would not change that for anything.

You have made me continue to think of this. Perhaps there is more for me to see. Thank you.

dianaani, You are so kind. Today, thanks to my cousin, I visited water. I saw sea gulls and herons and waves and foam. All of life greeted me and I remembered, once more, how to breathe. May the visit hold me a very long time. Dreams and visions. Perhaps I live on these. Thank you for your lovely words.

Bard, I am glad you laughed. I had forgotten that moment. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach even as I knew the pieces didn’t fit. I don’t remember when the humour of the moment broke through for me but I think it was after the second letter was in my hands!!!

Kate, How lovely your words are. If I thought I had told what there was to tell here, I am learning as I read others’ thoughts that there is or was so much more. Perhaps I am simply remembering. Layers of onion skin lifting one by one. It is easier to put pain away. The words of the prompt unsettled me. I, others who have done the same, have broken convention and there are prices that follow that as you begin have no name. Perhaps that is just as well or who would dare to love. Daring to love and to know love in return - perhaps that is life’s greatest gift. A country is a kind of home. Love is the home that holds the heart and that ... isn’t that really everything.

Scylla, I have used so many words here when really your words so simply say everything. Thank you.
oh, but Scylla has said it
he is a wise man

(I came to your blog looking for you, ready to pound on your virtual door and ask where you were. But you posted! I have missed you, my own fault, as I am hardly ever here. Life is speeding up, as it always does when August is almost here.)
Annaliese, your responses to comments are a treasure to read too. A treasure to be held close in one's heart and to savour ... so slowly ... one word at a time.

Daring to love and to know love in return - perhaps that is life’s greatest gift. A country is a kind of home. Love is the home that holds the heart and that ... isn’t that really everything.

Sigh. Beautiful. So very beautiful. Yes, dear friend ... love really is everything.
Bard, Did I forget to mention how I love the notion of a Gilbert and Sullivan plot device. I begin to hear the melody!
For all love is understood worldwide, we haven't really planned very well for it in our political structures. Asking people to make such choices in those circumstances seems the kind of thing about which the UN should almost create statements of human rights.
I keep bumping into layers of onion skin as I attempt to respond in some honest way. I’ve managed to lift something. Had I buried it, had I let it slip away. I don’t know. I’m not exactly sure I want to know. The niggling began it, or touched it, or set it off. Too close still to pretend to know. That’s why one has journals and can dream about the sea. Most. Least. I need the journal first. But rainbow. No matter what is surfacing, if I can see it as part of my rainbow, only part, but part ...

We write, sometimes, to learn about ourselves. Sometimes we know what is coming. Sometimes we guide the pen. Sometimes we think we know.

Thinking of juxtaposition. Thinking of my swan poem. Sometimes perhaps we think we know what we are voicing. Sometimes, perhaps, it helps to have others share what they hear. I came so close to taking this piece down. Perhaps I began to sense it was far more deeply personal than I had wanted to feel. Perhaps the heat ... why am I thinking of trousers rolled ...

Algis, Yes, a shock ... from the moment the clerk spoke to me. All I thought I knew began that moment to fall away.

Pilgrim, How kind you are.
I do imagine. I imagine all the time. All the time.
Thank you for your words.

consonantsandvowels, No one has ever spoken that word to me. I’ve only, I think, dared to love, dared to follow my heart. I would do it all over again.

J-J, Lovely to meet you. Lovelier still to read your words. I begin to wonder as I try to take this in if always there is sadness ... if we allow ourselves to ... allow it ..., not lock it away, hide it from ourselves. Perhaps, in a way, it is simply part of our own symphony. Part. Not all. Perhaps it is the bass, the grounding, the balance that helps us cherish all our joy.
Mission, Your words touch me deeply. At the time, it just came so fast. I don’t remember much discussion of the pending immigration law change before my husband mentioned it to me and then it was happening in days. Action had to be taken before the change. In a way it was not my first concern. My father was my first concern and no one had any answers about whether or not an American wife could bring her father to live with her or be eligible for help of any kind. So much had happened so unexpectedly and quickly at home. My father trusted me so completely. I was all he had. He loved me and I loved him. Pieces of paper just then ... were pieces of paper.

Perhaps I should have looked ahead at some of this but ... I never did. When I began to ask, no one really knew. I thought there would be years to sort things out. Then he was gone. The country I had come to, welcomed me upon my marriage and opened every door. The country of my birth, once I said I wanted more, became no longer an emotional embrace but a bureaucratic machine that immediately distanced itself from me and then made me wait years before confirming whether or not they were expelling me. Most. Least. Free. Home. Perhaps it allowed me to cherish all that was good. It allowed me to cherish love.

I am sorry you had to struggle with such a dilemma.

I am glad you hear the lapping of the sea ... a sea with no boundary.

The sea I see as I write these words swirls ... so many circles ... all at once.

Trilogy, Thank you for your lovely words.

Vanessa, Dearest one, had I heard your pounding on my door, I would have opened immediately! I wish we had time for tea.

And yes, Scylla says all that matters in his words.

Kate, How lovely you are. Thank you.

Kent, Perhaps love should be allowed its own passport. Isn’t it what matters most of all.
Dear anna1, forgive me for missing this. What a beautifully written piece, the way you left some phrases lilting off, just as we do when details about why and where when you are only thinking about love and pleasing someone else.
I wish us both a place by the sea, and in saying that knowing that it is only a place, that we must belong to ourselves, feel at home in ourselves. I must PM you as I checked your space because I had a dream I spoke with you on the phone last night for some odd reason so I came here to read. Your words have a message for me. I hear it. Like listening to a shell by my ear. Thanks for this.
Congratulations on the EP! so wonderful.. so well deserved.
Rita, Your words move me so deeply. I can’t help wondering if your dream had some connection to my thinking of letting you know, from the start really, that you might not want to read this piece, that it might be too hard for you so soon. I wonder lately if there are connections made here that we can hardly begin to fathom. It feels like that to me.

Perhaps it was a better time yesterday for these words to find you. I hope so.

Now your words move me so. Yes. The sea. And yes. Belonging to and feeling at home within ourselves. Yes. Messages ... back and forth.

Perhaps sometimes it is simply the knowing that there is something that we love that allows us to feel the gentle breeze and hear the singing of sea. Whatever it is that allows us to keep our hearts open, may we be brave enough to let it in.

And oh yes ... listening to a shell ... by my ear.

Thinking of you, Rita, and so grateful you are here.
Following your heart, you will always find a home.
Beautiful post and well deserved EP
rated with love
"... perhaps love should be allowed its own passport."

Only you, anna1liese ;-)
Poetess, I have always believed this. I so hope so now. Thank you for your thoughts.

Kim, I’m glad to see your words. Only me ... I wonder ... and I think not .... Why tears now even as I smile.
( ... "only you" could come up with the love's passport thought ;-)
I must not be having a good day today if I've been so unclear. Thank you for coming back, Kim. I did understand your words, but part of me hopes someone else, you, perhaps, might see what I see. An avalanche of feelings gathered me up this afternoon and the tears came from that. The smile was thanks to you. No tears now. Only smiles. And thanks. Lovely wink as well.
Your willingness to risk it all for love rings loud here, and that accounts for much more than you think! I too, dream of fairy tale endings, but sometimes we have to cling to the beginnings, that we had any of the dream even if just for a short while. Thanks for sharing this intimacy....
annaliese --just found this and am late but sounds to me like you are more determined to do what feels right than you even know. And that trait will serve you well on your way to your next home. Great EP written post. Excellent. R
Rated again, first one stuck. WO