8 – Pretty on the Outside

After a while of just being dad again I was offered the opportunity to join my Father in Laws painting team.

They painted high end homes.

It was crazy.

Looking over the valley. Million dollar views.

Learning a skill I never had before.

It was a great bonding experience. I enjoyed that work, it was hands on.

You could see the process of the work. Taping off, prepping the area, cleaning it, filling in all the holes.

Waiting for the follow up coat.

Covered up. All pretty on the outside.

No one will see the holes, scars on the inside.

Nice metaphor for life.

The move to the US was good. There were scars, hurting that would heal in time but with this time back together it was a good paint job over all of it.

The honeymoon period all over again.

Spokane wasn’t the end goal. We would be moving on soon.

Hoping it won’t hurt too much or hurt people too much.

Bellingham was the next step for our family.

Bellingham would be our new home.

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7 – Time to Get Settled

Time with my boys. Time with my wife.

Time to explore the area.

America is pretty easy.

We are staying with Rachel’s mum and husband.

They are generous, loving and welcoming.

They have a fantastic house, lots of land, horses. The boys are in heaven.

At night time we hear Coyotes.

Not the kind of noises that I am use to.

Thins are different here.

A few miles up the road is a lake. Picturesque.

In the sun it looks incredible, fun. Boats and kite-boarders. People fishing. The works.

I still don’t have a physical green card… it is something that I am craving. It is something I need to legally be allowed to work, to earn money to provide for my family. It is tough not doing this.

It is almost a 2 month forced vacation.

Highlight of the week so far… my birthday (3 days after arriving)… Kyrie threw up on me in the middle of a Philly steak house restaurant.. haha it was disgusting. Rachel ran into a sports store to get me a different shirt… we ended the day with fried chicken and the NBA Finals. Not to shabby.

 

6 – Time to Re-engage

So one thing that happens when you spend significant time apart from children… particularly in this situation – two young boys. Consistency out the window.

The next couple of weeks of life is all about adjusting back to family life.

Being dad. Being husband.

Spokane is nice.

Playing with the boys all day, being with my wife as a team. It is a breath of fresh air. It is so welcomed but man it is a shock to the system.

I am slowly finding that it takes two or three times for the boys to listen to me instead of the one it took before.

But what am I to expect the boys are use to just having mum, Gramma and G-pa. I have been skype dad. Text dad. Dad whose discipline doesn’t hold weight, or comforting words have no real meaning. Talking over the phone didn’t hold my kids whilst they cried at night. Talking over the phone didn’t immediately add me to any family days out.

I was not in the family selfies. I wasn’t in the picture.

Nothing hurt more than the first time I realized that my voice didn’t hold as much weight as before… that I would have to reconstruct my position in my family again.

Joy.

Joy is when your sons run into your room in the morning and wake you up by jumping on the bed.

Joy.

Joy is when your sons give you hugs and don’t pull away even when the hugs are getting to long.

Joy.

Joy is being in the selfie with your sons. Being part of the memories. Being with my family.

5 – Spokane

My heart is pounding.

We are coming into land in Spokane.

We have done the 16 hour flight from London to Seattle. I had a little layover in Seattle but this is it.

I will get to see my wife again.

I have no words to describe the feelings I had leading to seeing Rachel.

Skype, Facetime, Texting. All of the technology in the world has nothing on that moment.

I smiled. Rachel smiled.

We cried.

We hugged for what felt like hours..

I’m tired. Jet lagged.

We jump in the car, travel to our next stop.

My boys.

They are asleep when we arrive. But man I just want to wake them up and kiss them, hug them, tell them how much I love them.

Life may not be settled. We may not be in our home but just being close to my family, to sleep in the same bed as my wife.. Nothing beats that feeling.

2 months apart. No more.

No more.

4 – Up and Out of here.

The time has come.

The Visa has come through and is in my hand.

Time for the flight.

Time to see my family.

The last two months have been terrible. The comfort offered by friends and family helped mask the emotion even for a little while.. but I was still standing – a shell of who I am.

I order the ticket. Say goodbye to my family, friends, church, job. Life.

Leaving one continent to start life on a different one. One that is similar but is different enough to remind you that your not from here.

I get to the airport. Bag of clothes. Bass guitar. Carry on. Thats it.

My life of 27 years all stuffed into 3 units.

I take a deep breath and walk up to the check in counter. All good.

I walk through security, show my boarding pass and passport. All good.

I sit down on the other side after being allowed through, put my shoes on and decide what to eat.

McDonalds. Standard.

I am half way through my quarter pounder meal when I hear something I have never heard before.

“Can a Mr Jamie McSeveney return to the checking counter – there is a problem with your luggage”

My heart stops. I start to panic.

There is no sharp objects, there is no spray on deodorant. My mind frantically working to try to figure out what it could be.

My bass guitar case was locked. They needed to search it.

For all the panic I was left with a little note to say that they had searched the case.

I join the line to go through security and the process again.

Finally take a seat in the waiting area, put my headphones in.. open a book and wait.

I don’t sleep on planes.

I can’t. Never have been able to. Probably never will.

I watch as many films as possible. If I can watch them on a plane I don’t have to buy a cinema ticket for the movie.. Terrible mindset but still thats what I do.

London to Seattle. Seattle to Spokane.

22 Hours of travel from doorstep to doorstep.

3 – Walking in the Wilderness

Two months doesn’t seem like that long of a time.

If you have to wait for something exciting to come in two months time.. its manageable.

Two months.

61 days.

1464 Hours.

87840 minutes.

But more importantly… 4,544 Miles apart.

Distance is killer.

I have been told “Absence makes the heart grow fonder..” but it hurt. Absence made me go inside myself more and more.

I worked at an incredible church, a loving family church who looked after me as much as I would allow. I had moved into some incredibly generous and loving friends home – they gave me a room, space and didn’t judge when I would shut myself away.

The gym was ultimately the place where I took out my anger and my sadness.

I would run until my legs hurt.

I would lift until my arms hurt.

I just wanted my heart to not be the only thing hurting.

I was a youth pastor. Some incredible young people, fantastic volunteers.

This became where I would put my joy, this would be where I would push my energy and I loved it.

Every skype call was amazing and heart breaking at the same time. The texts that would be awesome to receive but hard to respond to.

Counting down the days. The hours. The minutes.

Trying to be as present as possible but living in a world where I couldn’t hold my family.

It was only two months. But it was a hard two months.

I went to see my family and we had a dinner together. Our favorite place to eat. The Golden Dragon – Chinese food.

Sitting seeing my family around the table all at the same time – brothers, mum and Ian, nan and grandad, cousins, nieces, spouses. I was happy but felt guilty for feeling it.

I remember hugging each brother. Mum, Ian, Nan, Grandad, Wanting to stay in that place forever.

Hugging each cousin.

Breaking down for every single hug. Taking deep breaths and trying just trying to hold it together.

I just want family. I just want to be with my family. I need my family.

 

2 – London Calling

There is a lump in my throat.

I wake up early and check my alarm… switch it off and decide to get up.

I open the curtains and look out. London.

My beloved London, the place that had a firm grip on my heart. The hustle and business of everyday life. There is always something going on.

I take a deep breath and decide to get set for the day, I have to check all my pockets.. every area where something could of been hidden.

I cannot risk something going wrong today.

No phone, no wallet, no pens – pencils, nothing that could hinder what I was trying to achieve today.

My appointment time starts at 8am, but doesn’t state a set time. First come – first served. I will not be the last – I will not be missed today.

I throw on a smart shirt, tie, ironed jeans, newly polished shoes.

Staring into the bathroom mirror of the room at the Covent Garden Premier Inn that I would call home for the next few days. Deep breath.

Coffee. Do not spill it.

I store my bag at the lockers provided. Nothing extra comes in.

A clear plastic envelope with my life inside it. Everything from passports, to love letters between me and Rachel. My life, our life in a file for the government to judge and deem true.

I get to the embassy and my heart sinks. Hundreds of people – all waiting for the opportunity to be granted a green card.

I join the line and 45 minutes later I am screened, searched and allowed to enter the next waiting area. I am number F1216, I don’t know what this means but it certainly makes me feel like just another digit in the system.

My number is called. My files are taken away, passport, letters… life. I suppose they were scanned and read or put into a file of their own. Two hours pass and I get the files back.

I am sat at the back of the waiting room, no AC, a TV showing news updates on repeat. Man this is exciting.

My number is called again. Files in hand, I get ushered into a different room.

Questions about Rachel were asked. About my boys. Our marriage. The legitimacy of it all.

My heart is pounding with each answer, trying to think before I speak… trying to make sense of what exactly is being asked.

I passed.

I did it.

I got the stamp of approval.

Now the wait for its arrival begins.