Brown, Queer and Wedded: Getting hitched, transnational style
By Spouse A and B
I married B so that we could be together.
I have never been aware of borders. Even though I have had to cross a river from one country of birth to another country of breading, I have never known the distance between countries. Loving someone bound to a country far out of reach has taught me that the lines between countries are thick. And sometimes, marriage is required to cut through the lines.
And wouldn’t we do it? Reduce homelands to transitional periods: here until we can be together, home will be wherever we can cross to in a boat.
No. Not really. I mean. We wanted to be together, so we explored all of our options: ask for a transfer at work – wait another year to be eligible, look for a job in her country – find a company that wants to prove beyond doubt that there was absolutely no one else currently in their whole country who could do what I do, get married and then apply for a visa in her country – wait a year or two for the process, get married and apply or a visa for her to be in my country – wait three months for home affairs to process the marriage certificate, and then a month to get all the documents to her, pray she finds a job and then fetch her from the airport on a cold winter day.
I don’t know for sure why people get married. I got married for a chance to be with my best friend, and the love of my life, for whom I would swim a lot, and sit still, and wait and wait and wait. I didn’t have to lie in our immigration interview, I guess that makes our marriage legitimate. In some way, although very practically considered, our marriage was for love. And when she moves here, it will be for love. Because sure, her president sucks, but so does mine! I’m sure she would have done just fine in her country, and I here. But finding each other, is finding new homes, and this is okay because we belong everywhere.
I know that the move is harder for her than it is for me. (For now anyway: one day soon, I will have to light pack my shit and make home in a country in the past — inside time zone joke hehe). I can imagine it hurts to pack up, to say goodbye to the ones you love so that you can be with another that you love, but in the grand scheme of things, I know that this is okay.
And thank god we ran into each other. On Tinder. On purpose.
I don’t really identify as a spouse. Well, I know it is a written and formal and literal identity to my name, but I don’t feel like one. I know that’s probably fucked up to say (especially considering how much effort went into our matrimonies) but I mostly feel like a young and in love person obstructed by lines and laws that I choose not to believe in but are still, unfortunately, very real.
In many ways, our love lives logically. Calculating steps and orders to land us together, without the distance of waters in between. As intensely emotional as our relationship is, at times it feels exhaustingly logistical. Like I am the secretary to my love life and shit needs organising. As someone who genuinely enjoys a solid process, having deadlines and direction strangely makes our complications a little more manageable. But also more removed. I feel distance beyond the borders and time zones; sometimes it is as though I’ve separated from the young and in love person I was in Cape Town and the threads that still linger are the things to be done. Steps to be taken. Moves to be made.
Getting married felt much the same. It happened as quickly as the idea bloomed. Though it felt like an endless stressful dream during the period, in conventional time it happened within a span of 3 weeks. It felt good because it was a challenge to undertake, a battle to win. It felt right because we are in love. And this is the distance I fear most: the growing limbo between indulging in good and remembering right. (And right here is not a question of morality but truth.) It is easier to focus on fixable details of a distanced relationship: flight itineraries, visas and job applications. I can sit in the stress of minutia and float away in its hardened, protective bubble. It’s much harsher to sit with pain and loss. Of having your love live thousands of miles away not knowing how to keep giving when you feel broken already. Sitting in stretched hours of melancholic longing and unrealised fantasy. But ignoring my hurt leaves less room for my partner’s.
It makes me detached. More cold. Much worse.
When I think of our wedding day I remember only sunlit laughs and salt waves. Much goodness. And feeling right. The lightness of a heavy love, realised so fully I could barely recall the torture it took to get there (side note: FUCK cape town home affairs).
We had accomplished what we had set out to do, and it felt like nothing and no one could stand in our way any longer. But time and distance clarify the deception of uncomplicated happiness. That it cannot be without pain too. Missing my partner is hurting without relief, but it is also okay. It reminds me of the richness of my relationship, of being a spouse, and of a love that is right.
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