Today’s post is going to be short. On this day in 2015 myself and Leanne realized we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Tonight we head out for a kind of anniversary dinner and spend an evening together, just us.
In the last 12 months we have started a visa process, completed an important stage of that process, I have moved country, we have moved into together, got married, started the next stage of residence status with USCIS and generally been busy but very happy. Tonight is for us to remember, and have a laugh, be in love and enjoy.
I really wasn’t going to write a post today or over the weekend and just let blog settle. But it’s Valentine’s weekend and also Presidents’ day weekend here in the States.
Leaving Presidents’ Day out of the equation for now, I will come back to it on Monday, what are people’s thoughts on Valentine’s Day. I myself being a hopeless romantic and recently married have my own plans and I won’t be divulging them here, at least not yet.
I was single for a long time, but always sent good wishes and thoughts to my female friends on Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to be in a relationship to be nice to someone. If sending a little Valentine’s wish to a friend gives them a smile, well that’s a good thing.
As I am now married my wife will be receiving all my Valentine’s love and wishes. But to anyone single, don’t wait for the good wishes to arrive at your door, take a leap and send some out to the world, you never know, love may send a message back.
A little history though now, In 1835 an Irish Carmelite by the name of John Spratt was visiting Rome. He was well known in Ireland for his skills as a preacher and also for his work among the poor and destitute in Dublin’s Liberties area. He was also responsible for the building of the new church to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Whitefriar Street. Apparently his fame as a preacher had gone before him, no doubt brought by some Jesuits who had been in Dublin. The elite of Rome flocked to hear him and he received many tokens of esteem from the doyens of the Church. One such token came from Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and were the remains of Saint Valentine.
So maybe us Irish have a bit of romantic blood in us all.
One year ago, Feb 11th 2015, I was on a plane from Dublin to Atlanta via Chicago to see Leanne. Today I will give a brief over view of our story and how we got together and how our journey has reached today. We met on St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) 2001 in Savannah, GA while Leanne was there with friends for the celebrations and I was there with the Irish Air Corps Pipe Band to take part in the parade and other celebrations. We had an instant connection and had great fun together.
We kept in touch via email, remember this was before smartphones, Facebook etc so email was really our only option besides cards at Christmas and birthdays. Our friendship blossomed even with the Atlantic in the way and in 2002 I returned to Atlanta to visit Leanne for 4/5 days before a trip to Boston with the band. Over the years we remained good friends and our lives took differing paths. In Feb 2014, notice a trend here with February, My phone made a funny notification sound I didn’t recognise, it was this thing called Google Hangouts, and it was Leanne asking did it work. We had a cheap and easy way to keep in contact.
We messaged daily, we chatted via video a lot of the time too and generally just kept in touch. But we had a few serious conversations and one of them was the ‘Us’ conversation. We both knew what we wanted, we were both on the same page but we knew there was complications, namely a visa and an ocean! We decided that I would travel over to visit in February 2015 and that brings me to the title of today’s post. It really was to see if what we thought was there was really there.
As I flew across the Atlantic my mind was racing, this could be a life changing trip, what if we were wrong and more importantly, what if we were correct? What would be next? How would we get on? How much had we changed in the 13 years we hadn’t seen each other? These questions and probably a few hundred more flew around my mind.
So at approx 9 pm on February 11th 2015 I landed in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport after a long day travelling from Dublin. I was still a bit nervous and on the way over I had met an Irish woman who had lived in Decatur for 30 years and she gave me the correction pronunciation of Decatur, I was saying it wrong all this time! As I waited on my bag to arrive I seen Leanne, she had changed and was looking stunning…as always. When we met we did have an awkward moment, hug, kiss…we didn’t know what to do but our instant chemistry that we thought was there was definitely there.
We spent a wonderful 18 days together, made our plans for the future and it was soon time to depart for Ireland. That was the hardest goodbye I have ever done, even now after leaving Ireland and coming to live here, that goodbye to Leanne last Feb 28th was the hardest. We parted as a couple who had decided to get married and live our lives together. Now it was a matter of filling in the required paperwork, getting Leanne’s Dads permission to officially ask Leanne to be my wife and wrapping up 47 years of my life in Ireland. On April 20th I made my first ever phone call to Leanne’s parents to ask their permission to marry their eldest daughter. It was my first time to talk to them and I had to be very conscious to not talk as fast as I normally do, this was an important call. Thankfully Bob and Terri were delighted and gave us their blessing to get married and continue our journey through life together.
With our paperwork for our Visa with USCIS we awaited their decision and on June 29th 2015 we got approval for our application for a K1 fiancee visa. With Leanne about to come visit Ireland in July it was perfect timing. Leanne arrived on July 22nd and the following day while visiting the Long Room Library in Trinity College I officially proposed and put an engagement ring on Leanne’s finger. A journey that had started 14 years previous as friends had taken a huge step forward.
Our wedding plans were already in motion but now we could make them certain and it was nearly time for me to pick a date to leave Ireland and move to Atlanta. November 5th was the date chosen and I had lots to do. Move out of my rented house that had been my home for 12 years, sell my car, spend as much time as I could with my son, wrap up work, say goodbye to friends and family and figure out how much stuff i could actually transport trans Atlantic. I will end this post here but i will come back to our story soon.
No matter where you are in the world, driving at rush hour on a Friday is never really a fun thing to do. But today, after a lovely day spent with my wife, we are on our way to a party and the Atlanta city skyline served up a treat with the setting sun behind it.
Today also marks my 3 months in the USA. It has been fun and eventful. Learning the way things are done here, getting married, driving and everything else that makes up my new life here.
But let’s take a small step back in time to November 5th 2015, the day I left Ireland, my home country for all of my life. Leaving was hard, to leave friends, family, especially my son and parents behind was difficult. I knew what awaited me here in the USA was love and a wonderful woman who would be my wife shortly after my arrival. As I went through Dublin Airport, saying farewell to friends who had come out to say goodbye as well as to former work colleagues in the airport, it was hard to hold it together. My emotions were all over the place but once on board, and knowing Lassie, my border collie, was on board and ok too, it was time to relax and enjoy the 10 hour flight to Orlando and where Leanne would be waiting to collect me.
So ten hours later, and just as I collected Lassie, the girl I had fallen in love with and would soon marry, arrived and met me in the baggage hall of Orlando Airport. We were finally together and I was delighted to be with her.
The visa process had been somewhat challenging, and I will go into that more later on as I progress with blog, but now we were able to put that part of our journey away for a couple of months and enjoy being together, and get ready for our wedding in December!