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  • Writer's pictureRubi G.

Not quite a 90-day fiancé episode but something like it

(Originally written during Writing From the Womb Masterclass, Summer 2020)


For as long as I can remember, I've felt the urge to follow my heart’s desires. I can attest that listening to my heart or inner voice is something I've felt truly comfortable doing, especially from a very young age. Those desires come in the form of curiosities begging to be explored deeper. And if the curiosity is big enough, I follow it all the way till the end.


Which is how I ended up getting married on my birthday. I wouldn't have purposely chosen to get married on my born day because I'd consider it corny or cliché. However, the divine had other plans and I was guided to do it this way. It all started when I was getting ready for work one morning-- I was lost in thought wondering how I should celebrate my quarter-life birthday which was soon approaching. The house was completely silent as I was tying my shoes and immediately, a crystal-clear whisper came to me, “Go to DR.” It then dawned on me that it would be a great idea because I could celebrate with my boyfriend, Emmanuel.



It wouldn’t have been my first time celebrating a birthday there, but it would be the most memorable. Family stories have it that when I was two, I traveled with my dad to meet my older siblings from his first marriage. Then again twenty years later while I was studying abroad there. When the idea randomly popped into my head, I didn’t overthink it. As soon as I arrived at work, I hopped on the computer to hunt for flight deals. Because my birthday landed on a weekday flights were reasonably priced, so I booked one immediately. It felt exhilarating to know I'd be spending my special day with my special someone.


Unfortunately, however, I had to split my five-day trip in half to visit my older siblings-- out of courtesy and to avoid conflicts with my father. As a result, I only had three days to celebrate and cuddle with the boo. For a day and a half, I fulfilled my sisterly duties before Road-Running my way into Emmanuel's arms which were in Las Guaranas, about three hours from Los Minas, where my siblings lived.


Being in a long-distance relationship, especially one that required a plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean was challenging and expensive. And although Emmanuel and I had several conversations about taking our relationship to the next level, we never intended or planned to do it while I was on my birthday trip. While apart, I would conduct extensive research on ways for him to obtain a VISA so we can be together in the United States. I even went as far as obtaining an apostille or document indicating I was clear to marry abroad. A document I had obtained months prior and left in his care during my previous trip.


During our many phone calls, we would envision what a life together would look like. He even suggested I move there to live with him but logistically speaking, it just didn’t make sense. Not only did I have two jobs and student loans to repay, but a mother and sister I wasn't willing to separate from yet again. Besides, there would be a lot more opportunities for us in the States as opposed to relocating to a country where most risk their lives trying to escape it.


Prior to my arrival for the birthday festivities, Emmanuel and I had agreed to speak with an immigration expert that could advise us on the best way to begin the VISA process. According to the USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) website, our options were applying for a K-1 Fiancé VISA with a requirement of marrying within 90 days of his arrival to the U.S. or getting married abroad and applying for a spouse VISA. The initial plan was to seek professional advice before making our final decision.


However, the day before my birthday, a trustworthy friend of Emmanuel’s encouraged us to just get married and be done with it. “If the plan is to marry anyway, why not go through with it for the paperwork to be processed faster,” Mariel said. He and I looked at each other and smiled because we knew she was right. There wasn't much else to discuss since we both wanted this. Needless to say, we never made it to the attorney’s office. “If you go to the courthouse today and make an appointment you can probably get married tomorrow,” she said. And that's exactly what we did but not before getting my mother's blessing.


And just like that, we drove to the courthouse in San Francisco de Macorís, made an appointment for the following day, and on June 8, 2010 @3pm, we would take our relationship to a whole new level. Neither of us could believe what we had just done. Adrenaline was coursing through us and to ease the nerves and "plan" our wedding day, we enjoyed some ice-cold Presidente's, which were in fact “vestidas de novia” --very fitting for the celebration at hand. It was both exciting and scary but having Mami's blessing meant it would all turn out perfectly fine.


The weekend Emmanuel and I met, just nine months prior, she was present and approved of him instantly. She knew what I knew and saw that we were meant for each other. In fact, it was she who nudged me to get with him by saying “Consiguetelo, Lisa.” She witnessed our chemistry from the moment we shook hands and knew it would only be a matter of time before we tied the knot. We celebrated our marriage, my birthday, and my last night there all at once because the following day I had to return home as if nothing had happened.


I decided to keep our marriage a secret from the rest of my family and close friends. I wanted to protect the sacredness of a union we had yet to fully savor for ourselves. I didn’t want anyone’s judgment or criticisms to rain on our parade, especially because many people back home were skeptical because of the negative connotations associated with long-distance relationships and sanky-panky's only marrying for VISAs. Moreover, I wasn’t ready to share and did so only after starting the application process three months later. I waited fearing immigration would get suspicious and think our union was a sham since we’d been together for less than a year before eloping.


I visited the site so much that I felt like an immigration specialist myself. The process took eleven months including a ninety-day delay due to a mishap caused by immigration. The wait and distance were torturous. And to save money and accrue vacation time for the interview at el consulado, we decided to halt my trips until the day of. So, I traveled once more during the Christmas holidays and didn't return for another seven months.


Throughout that time, we managed to do the best we could with what we had (and we did NOT have Facetime or What's App). We spoke on the phone using calling cards about three to four times a day. We even attempted to Skype occasionally but that proved unsuccessful since he didn’t have a computer at home and would have to go to a bustling internet café that did not allow for any privacy whatsoever. The hassle was not worth it.


In June 2011, an email confirmed the long-awaited approval of Emmanuel's VISA application with the details of his interview. I cried tears of joy while dialing his phone number with shaky hands. Two months later and after a grueling interview process, his VISA was finally approved. At last, the arduous journey had come to an end. Nearly two years after that first encounter, we were ready to really begin our lives together. The process in its entirety taught us all about faith, trust, patience, and communication. I hated learning these lessons then but realized they would be preparing us for what it would really take to make a marriage work. And last.




P.S.- At the time of this post, we have officially celebrated thirteen years of marriage. We both agree that making that wildly spontaneous decision so many years ago was the best decision we could have made. We both listened to our hearts and followed through with what they requested of us.


P.P.S- If you are struggling with keeping the faith or practicing patience, just know that you can do it. Regardless of how difficult it feels, if there's something (or someone) you can't go a day without thinking about then don't give up because the time will pass anyway.




Please share your stories of love, faith, and/or patience with me. I'd love to hear all about it.

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Guest
Jun 16, 2023

Such a beautiful story! 💗

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