In my life I’ve not dated many people. I’ve had crushes on thousands. And have been married to two men. On August 25th 2012 I’ll be celebrating my 5 year wedding anniversary with my husband, Thomas Maillioux. Our love story started in mid-2004. We met on a silly site called, Gaia Online. It’s not a dating site, heck not a serious site of any kind it’s mostly for tweens now, sadly. We joined a guild there around the same time and I became super jealous of this new girl whom everyone wanted to spend their time talking to. At first I didn’t want to talk to her out of principle since everyone seemed to get along so well with her. Her name was Melril. I soon started stalking Mel on the site and trying to find anything I could on her off the site. Eventually, after many false starts I found out Melril was actually a guy in real life. I had been attracted to Mel as a girl and honestly do believe if he had been a she I would have still moved moved to France to be with her (though it would have been even more difficult to stay here.)
In early 2006, I filed for divorce from my then husband. Things were not good in that relationship, there were lots of issues I’d rather not go into on a blog post. But I’ll just say it was for the best as we married way, way to young. I left the country the day after I mailed the papers to my lawyer. I told a total of three people I was leaving the country and none of them were family. This was for fear of being trapped into a marriage that clearly wasn’t working and also because Mel/Tom had offered to pay for the trip. At this time we had become attracted to each other a lot. But still, I had been burned by online relationships that were not the same in person as they were online. So this was a time for us to get to know each other and decide where we stood. As it turned out, it was magical. It was even more intense, and natural than I could have imagined. He was exactly the same person he represented online. I stayed in France for 3 months and then had to go back to the states legally because I was on the visitors visa through my passport.
When I returned things were very difficult with my family, but I tried to keep my head down and finish my degree at Johnson County Community College. I did finish in May 2007 with a general Liberal Arts Degree and a Certificate in Desktop Publishing. That same year in 2006 between college semesters for the Christmas season I went to France again and stayed for a month. It was then we also went down to Nice to properly meet his family. Things didn’t go well. His mother was instantly against me for many reasons by simply put I was divorced, I was/am American, and I couldn’t speak French. Even with all the difficulties there we were still determined to make it work and signed a PACS that January 2007 before I left back to the states to take my last courses at JCCC. The PACS doesn’t give a person any rights to stay in the country but it was free and we had all the right paperwork so we decided to go for one anyways.
In July 2007 Thomas came to the states for the first time. He came to good old Kansas to meet my family. We took a small road trip from Kansas to Minnesota to visit my brother and his wife when they lived there. It was a good trip and the opportunity for my family to finally get to meet the man I was planning to marry the next month in August. Because my parents didn’t have the time off work, or passports there was no way they could make it to our wedding. During this time and much before I had started to get all my paperwork in order to be able to stay in France. After much discussion with the French consulate in Chicago they told me that being engaged was no reason for me to get a visa of any kind for France. They told me to just go over get married on a three month visitors visa and apply for the “carte de sejour” once we were married. It was our only option really as I didn’t had a job in France or a school I was taking courses from.
Once we both arrived back in France in August 2007 we spent most of that month getting all the last minute papers and things done for the wedding. His family which lives all over France was coming in for the event and a few of our friends. The ceremony was just at the town hall here in Epinay-sur-Seine where one of the two mayors preformed the rights. We had to have a translator there for me because by law they won’t marry anyone who can’t understand the words being said. We took the traditional pictures outside before heading into Paris a few hours later to go to dinner at, Macéo. They gave us a good deal and we used their upstairs private dining area. They even made up a croque-en-bouche. It was a great time but I wish we could have more time to plan the wedding and make it more unique to us and our geeky ways. I guess we can save that for our ten year anniversary party.
Our first year we didn’t have enough money and Thomas’ job was starting up again with the school year so we had to postpone a honeymoon. So we dived right into getting my papers to stay here in France legally. For anyone who hasn’t gone through this, it’s enough to separate any couple from two different countries because it’s so hard to do. In France they don’t want you to get the papers so they make it as confusing and opposite as they can. No joke. So when applying for my first year’s card they were gonna deport me right on the spot. They said even though we were legally married in France I still had no right to stay in France. I seriously felt like I had been hit in the stomach with that one. After much pleading we presented the small PACS paper we had signed more than 6 months prior. The woman who now was a bit lost for words called over her supervisor and got advice. What did they do? They gave me the paperwork I needed so I could start the process. That didn’t mean I was an automatic yes, but they did give me the information and appointments to start the process legally. If it hadn’t have been for that little PACS that we got just in case not knowing what it might do for us in the future I know I would have had to go back to the US just two months after having gotten married. Oh France.
People say the first year is the hardest. For me it’s not the being married part that was hard. I think living and being with the one you love is very natural. There weren’t big hurtles we had to learn about each other as if we were strangers. It was hard because of all the outside forces that were trying to tear us apart. But I’ll be writing a post just about what marriage is next month as a five year anniversary post. But for those who didn’t know how we met that’s the skinny, with a little more detail than was necessary.
P.S. I made our wedding bands as well. They were carved in wax then poured with 14k White Gold. They were made during my silversmithing course at JCCC. They are supposed to look like old tattered paper that has been wrapped around the finger and sealed with a wax seal. On mine the seal is a star because Thomas a (now three) stars tattooed on his left forearm. And it says, “Vous et nul autre”, which means “You and no other”. On his it is written that, the English version, and his seal is a crescent moon which means new beginnings.