I am a sucker for good love stories and I have been known to watch “Love Actually” every Christmas since the movie came out. So forgive me if I relish in the self-appointed task of narrating a love story that is now in its 6th year of an improbable marriage. A happy one.
Let’s go back in time nearly seven years, in Las Vegas. My friend Chris (names and locations have been changed) is spending the week-end in Sin City, visiting a girlfriend. Chris is a professor of Spanish at a college in LA, committed to her job, to physical exercise and to having a good time after the break up with a live in boyfriend of many years. While bar hopping, enter Fernando, a cute Ecuadorian several years younger than our heroine. Conversation and drinks flow, a mutual attraction is established but she is back in Southern California quicker than anything can happen. Phone numbers are duly exchanged and used and Chris finds herself commuting back and forth to Vegas to explore the sudden spark for the handsome foreigner. Three months into the long distance relationship, Fernando goes home to visit his family for the Christmas holidays and the day he is supposed to fly back Chris is excited and making plans for the time they will be spending together.
Then the phone rings. The phone always rings, it seems to create suspense and to be the obvious bearer of bad news. A border agent is on the line trying to explain something to an uncomprehending Chris – then Fernando’s voice with his suavely accented English explains to her that he accidentally overstayed his visa and that he is being deported. Deported is one of those words that doesn’t have a good sound to it, there is a finality to its ring.Anyone else would have cried for a while, lamented her bad luck and eventually moved on. Deportation means not being able to apply for another visa for 5 long years. No exceptions. Most couples who have navigated the bureaucracy of immigration know that there are no shortcuts or loopholes on the road to legality.
But Chris is resourceful, she is in love and a touch unconventional in her way of thinking. She packs her bags and flies to Quito to spend the remainder of her Christmas break and, come the new year, she comes back with a new set of instructions for her life, moving forward. She resigns her position, rents her condo, stashes her furniture in her mother’s house and six months later, against the better judgement of most anyone she knows, she has relocated to Quito where she finds employment teaching at an upper class American school. They marry immediately. I remember her calm voice on the phone “I know”. That is what we tell ourselves, that we know, that he is the one but we know shit really. It’s all down to luck and the art of negotiation.
Six years later, after learning a new language, adapting to a new life and travelling up and down South America, they both quit their jobs to embark on a life in the States, on her turf this time, in the middle of the worst economic crisis in 90 years. They seem serene, eager to give it a try.
Chris jumped into the unknown and when she came up for air luck had turned out to be on her side. Either that or she knew.