We are a binational gay couple living in Toronto formerly in NJ, USA. We struggled for 6 years just to remain together. In early 2006 we were inspired to apply for residency in Canada because we yearned to be free, equal and safe from the tyranny of the right.
This blog will be a mix of our immigration process, our daily lives and topics of interest like politics and religion.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Swimming in the deep end
We decided to take the plunge and signed an agreement for a condo in Toronto today. It's a new building downtown. We're excited, but I am nervous at the same time. It has two bedrooms, two baths, a parking space and locker. It truly was the best deal in downtown and recommended by our B&B hosts Frank and Tan. They bought a unit there as well. The only bad part is we could only get the 2nd floor, it's all that was left. It will be ready in November or December.
When we got the letter from CIC requesting the medicals last week I broke out in hives. Two weeks prior I started getting TMJ, the painful jaw problem caused from grinding your teeth while sleeping. I have not had either of these since I was in college, so I know my stress level was through the roof. About a week prior to leaving for Toronto I kept telling Emilio I didn’t want to move. I just wanted all the stress to go away and I really meant it.
We arrived in Toronto about 2:30 pm on Saturday the 19th and I insisted we immediately go out to lunch. We walked up to the gay village and chose a restaurant. I was trying to enjoy myself but was terribly homesick. We spent the next 5 hours walking around the downtown area and at 8pm I was in bed asleep from exhaustion. Emilio confessed to me yesterday that as I lay sleeping that night he also was overwhelmed thinking what I have got this man into.
Sunday arrived and we purchased a transit day pass and went to see The Beaches. I started warming up to Toronto with apprehension. The Beaches is really a great place to start. It’s very warm and homey. We stopped for a coffee and just took the boardwalk in. The rest of Sunday we toured the villages, Chinatown, Little Italy, Portuguese village, Korea town, leslieville Cabbagetown…etc. It’s no easy feat, but our B&B hosts mapped a grid on a transit map and we were able to see them all. We also went west on the subway to the end of the line at Finch. On the way back we got off at Summer hill and walked back to our Cabbagetown B&B. On Sunday night we had dinner on Yonge St with our friend Dennis and his boyfriend Patrick, we all went to church street for a few drinks at Woody’s and Zippers. At this point I was still homesick using the cat and dog as my excuse.
Monday we took a trolley to the end of the line of Lake Shore Blvd that stops near Mississauga. On the way back we checked out King and Queen West and various stops along the way. We came back through the fashion district. We then walked through Riverdale and took a trolley to the another Chinatown on Gerrard. On Monday night we had to fast for our medicals on Tuesday.
Tuesday we drove to Scarborough or as Mason call it “Scare Borough”. We were a bit frantic trying to get passport photos for the medicals. Most shops were closed on Monday due to Victoria Day. We went to three places until we found one that opened at 10 and our appointment was for 10:15. The entire medical process took only 3 hours, which included the doctor’s office, the blood work done at the hospital and a clinic for X-Rays. Anyone who says Canadian healthcare is inefficient is full of it. I watched people coming in off the street without appointments asking to see the doctor and only had to wait mere minutes. Our blood test cost $22 CND each and the X-Rays cost $33 CND each. Try paying those prices in the US! On Tuesday night we met Mason & Nick in Greektown and honestly it was a turning point for me. Knowing they went through this whole process just one year prior and hearing them say they would do it all over again really helped me. Their insight helped me look at Toronto as a citizen rather than a tourist. One thing they said that truly hit home is in Canada we are a full and equal citizens, we don’t have to worry about the things gay couples concern themselves with in the US. As Nick put it you can start working on other things you are passionate about like the environment. I started to realize that I hadn’t spent the last few days there thinking in terms of gay bi-national couple Tom and Emilio. We were just Tom & Emilio amongst millions of other human beings, no different, simply living their lives. So thanks Mason and Nick, you really helped us out with perspective, plus seeing Kian and Athena helped me get my dog fix in and Greektown is truly a gem.
Wednesday Emilio and I went to the CN tower, it has the most incredible view. (Thanks again Mason and Nick for the half price pass). Emilio was too scared to walk on the glass floor, it was hysterical especially because I am the one who has height issues. I was flying high and falling in love with Toronto by this point. We then toured the harbor front. At 1pm we arranged to go see my office building downtown on Adelaide St E. I was blown away by the building, they actually have a pool table in the break room and an outdoor terrace on the roof top. It was great. I hope the transfer works out, I would love working there. We decided to have dinner at our favorite restaurant in Chinatown at St Andrews Place and Spadina. (We actually already have a favorite that we went to twice) That night we met Dennis for coffee at a cafe on Church street. As we sat talking our group of three increased, we had men from Venezuela, Poland, Malta, Cuba, Canada and the US all sitting around enjoying great conversation at an outdoor cafe. Stangers moments earlier were now enjoying each other company talking about our lives as the circle increased with each new member joining. It was a fantastic moment.
Sadly we didn’t get to see our Canadian trailblazers Laura and Allan, but we plan on going back up in a few months once the medicals are processed and will make sure we get to see them.
Crossing the border was a bit hair raising. We were asked to park and go into the building. We waited almost one hour and Emilio was called. Since they had my passport too I walked up to the counter with him. The border patrol guard in a stern voice yelled at me “Go sit down!” I was steaming because I saw men and women at the counter together the entire time we were waiting. I held my tongue, which was a feat in itself. They asked Em a few questions and we were off. We stopped for lunch at a rest area and Fox News was blaring on the TV. I said to Emilio “Welcome to America” and we laughed. If you had said to me one week ago that I would be disappointed to be coming home to New Jersey, I would have thought you were crazy, but you would have been right. I cannot wait to be a Torontonian.
We received today the letter from the Canadian Consulate of NY asking for our medical examination, FBI and State police background and the processing fees. We are lucky, we weren’t asked for a long list like the wbc guys.
We decided to do our medical examination in Toronto and save some money. Fortunately, a Doctor in Scarborough (East Toronto) gave us an appointment for next Tuesday.
We are so looking forward to see the city and meet everybody there. I am sure we are going to have so much fun. We are very exited about it.
Any idea of “must see” in the city guys?
A little update about THROUGH THICK AND THIN
Sneak Preview at NewFest June 6th @ AMC Theaters (Number 10), 34th St. and 8Ave. New York 6:00pm
Today is Emilio's Birthday. We're having the family over to celebrate along with Mother's Day and Mom's Birthday (5/10).
It's a great day for a BBQ.
My Dad suffered a mild stroke last week, but thanks to modern medicine and the strong man he is, he will be here today to celebrate. We're lucky it wasn't worse. My parents can never get enough praise from me. I really love and admire them deeply.
Next Saturday the trip to Toronto begins. I booked a room at the 231 Carlton Street B&B. It seemed like a really good spot to venture out from and explore the city.