Happily Ever After -- Part Two
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Thursday, February 11, 2016
By Lee Ann Bannerman
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With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we just had to share the next chapter of Lee Ann and Jasper's love story. Miss Part One? Click here. Otherwise, read on and get ready to sigh...

 

Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman


Over the next few months, Jasper and I stayed in touch. As fate would have it, he was offered a job at the University of Michigan’s University Musical Society.  RSC Touring was winding down, neither of us was in a relationship and he was ready for a new challenge.  So he accepted the invitation to interview. 

 

Jasper invited me to join him in Ann Arbor which I gladly did!  But I can remember getting off the plane and suddenly thinking I was mad.  I barely knew this guy.  What if things weren’t the same?  What if it was awkward?  What if he’s not as attractive as I thought he was? 

And then I saw him staring out the window, leather jacket and sunglasses and all of my doubts and worries dropped away.  I was there again – in love, sure of myself and completely beside myself.  It was exactly the same.


Photo by Bekah Wright

 
Jasper took the job in Michigan and for two years we dated long distance.  And it was great.  We were a couple in love.  And then he left again.  Family issues forced him to move back to the UK and, once again, I thought I'd lost him. 

I persevered, stayed in touch, constantly reminded him how much I loved him and assured him, I could and would move to England if he would have me.  Finally, I wore him down and on the phone one night he asked ... "So you think what?  Should we get married?"  I took that as a proposal and started making plans!


Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman

  
It was a long road.  Visas are not easy to sort out.  Selling up and moving to another country, I know now, is not for the fainthearted.  There were possessions to sort through, cars to sell, houses to empty, a foster dog to find a home for, a beloved dog to make arrangements for (he was coming with me!) and the hardest part – a huge family to say goodbye to.  It took months and months and lots of money and time and energy but I did it.  I moved to England.



Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman

 
When I arrived in Manchester though, there was a hitch.  Having handed my passport to the passport control officer I was grilled with all kinds of questions.  Some I was prepared for – Where will you live?  Who are you here to visit?  How long will you stay?  How much money do you have?  Wait, what?  What do you mean how much money do you have?  Like on me right now?  Or in the world?!  I was completely caught off guard.  I answered to the best of my ability and she carried on.  Do you have a job in America?  No.  Do you own a house in America? No.  And on and on it went. 

Finally I was asked to take a seat.  On THE bench.  If you’ve ever travelled abroad you know the one.  The one where they send people they don’t trust, or who seem suspicious or present a language barrier.  I was out and out scared.  My mind raced.  I could always go back I told myself.  I could live with my parents.  I could get another job.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’ll be fine. 

Two hours passed.  I sat.  Everyone left.  Another flight came and the passengers went through to collect their bags and meet up with their families and loved ones.  And I sat.  


Image by dannyman (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyman/4672474943/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

 

Finally, the officer came back.  Stepping up into the box she called my name.  I came forward, she stamped my passport and told me I could proceed.  She did not smile.  She did not explain.  She just waived me past.  Wow.
On the other side, through the doors, was Jasper.  I hardly knew what to say. 

As it turns out they were trying to reach him to get verification of my story.  Over the loudspeaker a voice was asking “would the party meeting – insert my former married name here – please report to the immigration desk”.  Finally after an hour and a half they added my first name...”would the party meeting Lee Ann ------- please report to the immigration desk.”

Suddenly it clicked and Jasper made his way to the desk.  Because my passport had a page with my former married name, and my re-gained maiden name, they had been looking at the wrong page.  All I can say is thank God they added Lee Ann and thank God Jasper had not given up and left!


Six months later I went back to NC to wait for my fiancé Visa.  Six weeks after that my dog Odie and I returned to England and a year later Jasper and I were wed.


Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman

 

It was a big move in a lot of little ways.  We speak the same language but everything is different.  Getting used to all of those differences took a lot of time and patience for both of us but being together and knowing it was for good was magic. 



Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman
 

 

I love Jasper and I love England but I miss my family, plain and simple.  I never knew how much I would miss them and could never have been convinced that it would only get worse as the years went by.  I guess I thought it would get easier but for me it hasn’t.  So while I have loved this journey and this adventure, I am ready to come home.

 

Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman

 

I’m ready to be closer to family and friends and all things familiar.  I’m ready for real summers with long stretches of sunshine and cool water to swim in, I’m ready for family gatherings at the spur of the moment, I’m ready to help my siblings look after my parents as they grow older.  Thankfully Jasper is ready too.  We don’t know how or when, but we will move back and another adventure will begin. 

 
We just love happily ever afters. And we're so glad Lee Ann and Jasper shared theirs with us. It took a lot of airline flights and long distance phone calls, but the destination where their travel ultimately led... True Love.  

P.S. Happy Birthday, Lee Ann!


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2 Comments
Karen Langston - Wow what a great story.. I married an American and although we got married I had to reside in Canada. It took 3 years to immigrate to the USA. It was worth it though. But I had many scary times waiting in airports feeling like I did something wrong..and waiting and waiting to be let go.. so glad it worked out for you!
Juan - Remind me of my story, left my native country because of love. Been all worthy even though the immigration part was a tad scary. Great story.