13 – The Summer of Fun

Our first summer was insane.

It was an incredible welcoming to an area of the world that we were new to.

BBQ’s, Church get togethers, board game evenings, meals together… People knew how to make us feel welcome and loved. We needed it.

Daniel took me up to Yellow Aster Butte, it was crazy.

There were hundreds of flies… that was the negative.

We camped out on a night where the skies were so clear.

The was a meteor shower that night… I was sat on what it seemed to be the top of the world with a friend I had known for about a decade.

It was again a great intro to the area and what was available.

Snowboarding, skiing in the winter, summers by lakes and up mountains.

What else could we want?

The biggest issue in my mind throughout all of this was that I still didn’t have my green-card.. And I hated not providing or my family.

We were house sharing with an incredibly generous and loving couple.

The sharing wasn’t hard. The dependance on others who had earned the right to have their house was the issue to me. I felt like I was robbing them of their earned privacy and home life.

One of the hardest things I have learnt is to allow people to bless us as a family. To give them the opportunity to bless and give to us.

And for me to be thankful for it.

That is still something that I am learning to this day.

Advertisements

12 – Beers and Beards…

Bellingham, WA.

An amazing city right on the border to Canada.

Hipsters. Beards. Longboards. Tye dye shirts. Breweries.

Small breweries popping up everywhere. It’s an incredible place to live. But not so incredible for a person who has struggled with a dependence on alcohol.

But it’s a refreshing place to live.

Close to the mountains, waterfalls, bays, greenery. Bellingham is a great balance between town and countryside.

It has the feel of small city with the fast paced life style but the incredible option to drive five minutes down the road to get lost by a lake or into the tree line.

The first date Rachel and I go on is a walk by the bay. We grab a coffee and watch the sunset.

Pretty.

We breath a simultaneous sigh of relief.. we made it.

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.

1 – Home is only an ocean away.

Home is where the heart is.

I look at this picture and wonder how our life has managed to be the way it is.

How we survived the distance. The time apart. Not kissing my boys and tucking them in at night. Not hugging my wife when times get tough. Not having her back apart from over Skype or Facetime through the parenting struggles.

It hurt.

How we as a family managed to keep the distance as small as possible whilst still being 5000 miles apart. Trying to reinforce my role as dad in my boys life, reinforce my role as husband to my wife.. but not being able to hold her, kiss her.

April 6th 2016 was the hardest day of my life. The day that I had to say goodbye to my family whilst not knowing if I would get my green card. As confident as I wanted to be, I did not know whether or not I would be allowed to join my family in the US. Seeing them walk through customs without me, I stared at their backs and just wanted to shout, STOP.

My heart broke.

There were times in the two months apart where it seemed like this would never be over and we would never be together again.

Over the next week or so I had to move out all of our remaining possessions.

The house needing to be emptied forced me to re-live all of the memories it held.

This is where we brought our newborn babies home. Where we became parents. Where our boys learned to crawl. Where they said their first words, and on and on.

This little English house was our home.

Pulling away from Carlingford Road in Hucknall, UK the weight of it all overwhelmed me. This move, this call meant parting ways. With friends, a workplace, my British family, a church family, possessions, memories, and more. This wasn’t an easy move.

I vividly remember loading all of  the left over  things (the things we couldn’t give away or didn’t have time to sell) into my friend Dan’s car and heading to the dump. Crying tears as I disposed of my oldest son’s first bed.

Heart break.

This blog is a journey through the process of life up to now in the US. I invite you to journey with me through some of the trials and triumphs of the move and life now.

** Spoiler alert… I get my green card **