Love Story: Heather and Elfie Fight DOMA, Struggle Financially to Be Together
My name is Elfie, I am 32 and a French citizen. I met Heather (she’s 27 and a US citizen) early 2009 in a place that was completely unexpected for the both of us: Facebook. I was a fan of an unknown band at the time (Warpaint) that had just created their fan page. I was randomly browsing through fan comments when a name caught my eye: Zooey Glass. A quick look at her profile showed me something that was even cooler: she had a twin sister who called herself Franny Glass. For people who don’t know, Franny and Zooey Glass are two members of the Glass family, characters created by author JD Salinger (notably ‘Franny and Zooey’, also a tattoo I have on my forearm). From their profiles, I saw that we had a lot of interests in common, including the most random ones, and I thought the twins were the coolest people ever. I never thought I would find anyone who could be so similar to me.
In the beginning, I was shy and introverted so we didn’t talk much. During the months that followed, we started talking more and more, and I got to know Franny’s real name: Heather. By September 2010, we had exchanged thousands of messages, made each other videos, and developed a serious crush on each other. It got to a point where I wanted to meet up before we went any further. So, I flew to California in October 2010, and we had our first meeting. I instantly fell in love with her, I knew she was the one I had been waiting for all along. I came back to California in January 2011, and we had our first proper date and kiss at Disneyland in Anaheim. Heather was living in a small town near San Diego, and I was staying at a friend’s place in Los Angeles. In order to see one another, I kept traveling back and forth and staying at hotels for the next month and a half. When it was time for me to fly home to Paris, I knew my life had changed forever. I knew where I had to be: with my Heather.
I came back in March as a tourist and stayed for three months, renting a room in a house near Heather’s. Ultimately, I decided to stay another three months until September 2011. We got to spend a lot of time together, every day and almost every night. I decided I couldn’t keep traveling back and forth. I had to find a way for us to be together without the fear of not getting through immigration when flying into the U.S. I also thought it would be beneficial for the both of us if I were to go back to school and learn a valuable skill. Going back to school was something I’d always wanted to do. After doing some research, I found the perfect career for me; I would become a massage therapist. I registered for my Associate of Science in Holistic Health at a school known for being one of the best in the country. I received my F1 visa in October and started school in January 2012. It’s been going really well, I fell in love with the school and what I do; but it’s been difficult for us financially. As an international student, I am not allowed to work. Heather is disabled and living with her parents where she is currently working on her memoir.
Marriage has always been important to the both of us, and, in August 2011, I proposed to Heather. I bought an old toy vending machine and filled it with about 300 capsules that each had a different vintage toy ring and other little items from the 1950′s. Each capsule also had a little fortune and a note that would cheer her up and show her my love whenever I was away. I gave her a quarter, and the first capsule to come out had the engagement ring in it (garnet stone like my birth month) as well as a note that said “will you marry me?”. Of course, she said yes. She got me a ring with a sapphire, her birth stone. We later bought different rings for our wedding.
Throughout our relationship, we have bought each other a lot of meaningful gifts, such as first edition of Franny and Zooey and rare collectible Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein monster statues. When I met Heather, she had a portrait of Frankenstein’s monster tattooed on on her left shoulder. That summer, I got the matching portrait of the Bride of Frankenstein tattooed on my right shoulder (that way, they would be facing each other when we walk hand in hand). We would also send each other a postcard every day we spent apart. We have dozens of those on our bedroom wall.
Eventually, we want to have a child of our own, a plan that we hold dear to our heart. We have already started the process; we found a donor that looks like Heather. However, we are waiting for our situation to improve before becoming parents. In December 2011, we adopted a 12-year-old Maine Coon, Maggie, who is the sweetest, most caring cat ever. For now, she’s our baby. The same month we adopted Maggie, I also moved in with Heather, and we’ve been living with her parents and twin sister ever since.
Heather’s family is very supportive of us, they consider me their daughter-in-law, and we spend a lot of family time together. I was also very close to both of Heather’s grandmothers who were living in the same town. Sadly, they passed away in April and October of 2012. Heather also came to Paris in 2011 to meet my family. My family loves Heather and also consider her part of the family. A month after I introduced Heather to my family, we flew to New York to get married. While we would have loved to have our families and friends to attend the wedding, it was too complicated. At the time, same-sex marriage was not legal in California or France. Fortunately, France now has marriage equality and hopefully California will soon have the same; but it was too late for us. In the end, we ended up celebrating our marriage just between the two of us in New York City. However, we had an amazing time in New York. We found a great wedding officiant, and one of my oldest friends was there as our witness and photographer. We couldn’t be happier with how the day went, and it was really nice to have that time for us to be together, on our own.
I feel lucky to have had the means to be able to stay in the U.S. as a student, but keeping up with international tuition fees makes it increasingly difficult for the both of us. We are eager to get our life as a married couple “started”. We want to have our own place. I want to be able to earn a living to support my family. Because of DOMA, this is not possible. We are really counting on the Supreme Court to make the right decision, so we can start the spouse-based green card process. I still have a year and a half before I can start working in my field of study. And even then, I would only be authorized to work for a year. Plus, I would have to worry about not being let into the U.S. if I ever leave the country to visit my family with Heather. It is so scary not to know what the future holds.
Knowing that same-sex marriages are respected in my country, we could always move to France, but that would mean Heather would have to leave her family behind, especially her twin sister to whom she is extremely close. Plus, she would have to learn a whole new language–which is no easy task. I, on the other hand, have been used to living in different countries and being away from my family (as much as I love them). I also consider Heather’s family my own. No matter what, we will never let anything separate us, but we are longing for the day when we can finally have peace of mind, and feel like our relationship, our marriage, our love, is treated equally to that of a heterosexual couple.