As if there wasn’t enough chaos in my life already that as of last week I am no longer working. There have been some hiccups with my work visa, so while I can stay in the country legally, I cannot work until these problems have been resolved. It may seem like a rather unnerving news, but quite frankly I couldn’t stop laughing when I got the call informing me that I couldn’t go in to work starting next day until further notice. I am beginning to feel like I’m living in the pages of a Shakespearean comedy of errors where nothing seems to be going right, although there hasn’t yet been a case of mistaken identity and yet if it were to happen to me tomorrow, I wouldn’t even be mildly surprised considering the events that have transpired since last fall! What is also typical of such a comedy is a happy ending. I was in Rhode Island for a weekend to see my best friends. On Saturday morning, I decided to go out for a walk/jog, and explore the neighborhood. I spotted a park a little over a mile away on the map, and decided I was going to head that way. It seemed like it was close to the water but there was a street separating the park from the waterfront- beach houses, in all likelihood. But as I approached the park, I noticed the houses ended at one point and there was a series of steps right next to it. Excited, I ran towards it and, lo and behold, ocean, and an endless beach as far as the eye could see (above)! My friends had no idea they lived this close to a public beach. I spent few minutes taking in the scenery and reflecting on what it meant to me. During my run back, I concluded that this was a sign that I’m about to find ‘my beach’ in real life too. I have been on an adventure for many months now, not knowing what lies ahead. Anything that could go wrong has gone wrong, anything that I could lose I’ve lost. Today, I’m playing the narrator instead of the protagonist in the drama that is my life!
Act One: It all started last summer with my long term employer deciding to withdraw their sponsorship for my employment in the US- the very basis of my existence. And they did so with little to no justification, rejecting any legal expertise I brought to the table through my independent counsel with various immigration attorneys. What followed was a series of power plays by authority figures that culminated in my abrupt termination, despite my stellar track record. But in a world of at-will contracts, ethics are non-existent. Being jobless is one thing, as stressful as it is, but being without a sponsor in a foreign country- now that’s something practically unheard of. There is a lot in this one sentence that I want to talk about in detail, from the convoluted process of visa sponsorship to how I have been made to feel like a ‘foreigner’ although this country has been my home for many, many long years. Since I am going to have plenty of time on my hands in the coming days, I will take them one at a time. For now let’s talk about employers.
Employers are almost always sympathetic to the fact that if a person’s whole life depends on a piece of paper that they control, that they let this person make other arrangements before they pull the plug. But I had made some powerful enemies who wanted to pull the plug and watch me squirm and die. And so they did. But I was already expecting them to strike me where I was weakest- my immigration status- and, fortunately, had my modest team of attorneys on standby. With their help, I was able to safeguard my legal residence. That was the ‘situation‘ that I refrained from talking about in some of my earlier posts from last fall.
Act Two: Act One left me without a job in the most dramatic and unexpected way. In Act Two, I started plummeting towards bankruptcy. Cash flow was upside down. I had no income but expenses had skyrocketed with attorney fees and other immigration-related dues. I am not entitled to claim unemployment although I contribute to social security- another topic for next time. Moving on, I was offered various part-time jobs but the multitude of visa restrictions made it impossible for me to accept anything that came along. I was all alone during this crisis. I didn’t say anything to my parents or they would have driven themselves sick with worry, and I put up my bravest and best face in front of friends. But deep down, I was terrified and lonely. So when I couldn’t get my playboy to stop texting me, one day I asked him to come over and hold me. He did, and it was so sweet! But the universe was determined on breaking my bones and bringing me to my knees. So during what has undoubtedly been the darkest time of my life, my playboy once again did his disappearing act and left me just as he had found me that day- terrified and lonely. No job, no money, no love, no support- I decided to end not just the Act, but the entire play altogether. I have already written about that so I won’t go over it again. But sure enough, nothing happened as this story isn’t over yet!
Act Three: My free fall towards an unknown abyss continued and I decided it was time I sought help. I had started seeing a therapist since I lost my job but now I actually took therapy seriously. My therapist made a comment that came as a wake up call to me, “You have forgotten who you are, you think you are your immigration status…“. Perhaps we do have an element of mistaken identity after all! He was right, I had forgotten that I am a person, I could only think of myself as an immigrant, and by extension, erroneous as may be, someone who is not a human being at all. I wasn’t eating right, I wasn’t sleeping right, I stopped working out, started smoking- I had lost all regard for myself. But now that I had made my therapist an active partner in my recovery, I was being held accountable for my actions and each week I had to report my progress to him. It didn’t take me too long to bounce back. There were minor setbacks along the way, like a toothache when I was out of insurance as well as money! But I was able to find positivity and hold on to it.
Act Four: Emotions were under control but I still needed a job, and a steady source of income. The only job that came along, that would meet visa requirements AND where the employer was willing to take over my sponsorship, was far from Buffalo, in Michigan. Buffalo, NY is where my heart belongs; as a matter of fact, one of my early posts is dedicated to Buffalo. Being home was my final tether to any remaining sense of security and comfort. Now it was severed. I had finally lost all that I ever loved. Someone could have driven a stake through my heart and it probably would have hurt lesser than it did through the whole process of packing and moving (here’s an example).
Call it fate, intuition or perhaps, weakness, but when my property manager in Buffalo refused to let me out of my lease early, I was secretly happy and I decided not to move my things to MI just yet. All I have over there are few dishes and cooking utensils, an air mattress and a TV. Everything else is still in Buffalo, and as of last week, the cats and I have moved back in! Paying rent and utilities in two places hasn’t been easy but to me it is a small price to pay to hold on to my ‘home’ until I’m ready to let go, or come back forever, whichever happens first.
As Act Four draws to a close, I’m once again grappling with visa issues. But on the bright side, I’m back in Buffalo in the interim, and finances are beginning to improve. There has been no development on the playboy front, except a brief reappearance and yet another disappearance. I did run into him during my last visit to Buffalo and we acted like perfect strangers, like we were transparent to each other. Meditation has been a significant underlying force during this whole time and my mental state has never been more tranquil in my entire life, not just these few months. It has also awakened me to the voice of my own instinct. As I look to Act Five I am confident that after all this chaos, everything is suddenly going to snap into place and things are going to get better, just as haphazardly and abruptly as they fell apart. There’s something inside me that can smell the ocean in the air already, and is telling me that the beach cannot be too far now. Tomorrow we commence this new Act and I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what’s next!