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I Do. I Do.
By Alien #7005634

My friends refer to me as Montreal's very own Elizabeth Taylor. But for the purpose of this story, you can call me Alien Number 7005634. I think marriage is a mirage. But I still partook in the husband and wife design. To be precise, it's more like I pimped and spat on its supposed sanctity. I was after a piece of the American Dream and for a wallet-sized green card, hell, I was willing to tie and untie the knot twice.

Each time, not only did I not walk down the aisle and collect my honeymoon in Hawaii, I risked going straight to jail. Quite a cheap deal, considering it only took a few fibs to the feds and a couple of broken hearts. Yet if you ask me whether I harbor any regrets, I'll gently lift my veil and whisper, "I do." Because deep, deep inside I too wanted to reach happily ever after. Not end up stripped and jaded, believing that our natural tendency is to form a temporary pair bond, only to separate and go in search of a new brief, tenuous attachment -- over and over.

I met Husband One at age 22, during a visit from Montreal to Los Angeles. I believed that I'd stumbled upon a Mickey-and-Mallory, Natural Born Killers kind of love. Us against the Universe -- a bond so fatalistic, we planned on building our very own wooden caskets. We clicked instantly. Manic, depressive with a hippie streak and an IQ of 135 -- I fell in love with his wicked genius. He read Scientific America, grew mushrooms in his parents' attic and worked at a hospital on the weekends. Moles, spores, molecular structures.

He textured my initial perception of El Lay with The Doors, Hendrix and Eucalyptus-scented drives through rolling canyons. "We're gonna 'hold hands and watch the sun rise from the bottom of the sea,' like Jimi says," he promised.

One year and a journalism degree later, I sold my stuff, packed my old way of life and headed west to be with him. It was California or bust, baby. But once in the U.S, I became an un-authorized "alien," banned from benefits. I couldn't get a social security number, a driver's license, a credit card, an apartment. Let alone a career.

I tried landing a job. Journalists, however, aren't part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a program that facilitates cross-border movement for certain Canadian citizens. Meanwhile, media outlets wouldn't hire me without proper work documents and I couldn't get the proper visa without a company sponsoring me. I was stuck in Catch-22.

So I proposed we get hitched -- on paper. We were planning on being together for lifetimes; why not help me jump-start my livelihood in Los Angeles? There was resistance. And then I reminded him that I'd left everything I knew for him.

Unlike other brides, I didn't have to agonize over the look of invitation cards, or make trips to Crate and Barrel to create a gift registry. And I definitely had no time to read articles, such as "Choosing the Right Lingerie for your Dress" or "How to Plan a Bad-Ass Bachelorette Road Trip." Instead of church, my shotgun ceremony unfolded in a dismal industrialized city called Norwalk, CA at the L.A County Clerk's Office where a million marriage licenses are doled out every year. Oh yeah, but first we stopped off at Wendy's for lunch.

When it was our turn, we were escorted into a florescent-lit courtroom turned makeshift chapel. The altar was made out of Formica; a tawdry paper bell dangled over our heads. Pitiful isn't even the word. And yet, I still managed to tear as the Justice of the Peace recited the vows: "Do you Husband One-To-Be take Alien Number 7005634 to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to care for as long as you both shall live?"

"What are you doing," my husband-to-be snipped in my ear. "Are you crying? This isn't real! Remember?"

* * *

What are you doing? I asked myself that very same question by year four. Communication had deteriorated; our relationship had rotted into his stolid attitude and my nagging voice, begging him to ease up on the incessant bong hits. He resented my focused ambition. I hated his emotional vacancy; the pothead he'd become. We barely saw one another anymore now that I had my own place. His parents forbid him to live with me since we hadn't gotten married "in front of the eyes of God."

Despite my misery, I stuck around. Didn't the fable go something like, "for better or worse, till death do us part?" I suggested we consult a therapist, but he refused. I even purchased Give in or Give up -- A Step-by-Step Marriage Improvement Manual from a used bookstore for $2.75.

I gave up. I gave up on the marriage, and I wasn't even thinking about my Green Card. If that were the case, I would have waited till it was nestled between my new credit cards before getting involved with Husband-Two-To-Be.

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