Should be simple….

19 05 2018

Peter and I have decided to get married. Finally.

Why would anyone our age bother with marriage?

We’ve been friends since 2011 — and lovers living together in Guanajuato since 2013. We’ve talked about getting married. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. But — why?

Pragmatically, marriage makes sense. Peter and I want to make decisions for each other without legal hassles of “relationship.” He’s a British citizen. I’m an American. We live in Mexico. We travel the world. His children live in Mexico. Mine live in the USA. I’m 70-fucking-2 years old. He’s five years younger. Anything could happen – from old-age maladies to being run over by a bus.

I can’t imagine life without him.

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We want to do this in England, his country of citizenship where we own a “holiday home” in Devonshire, on the beach of Plymouth Sound overlooking Cornwall – where his sister, his cousin, and childhood friends live. When we return to Mexico, we’ll have a Vows Ceremony with other family and friends – and, of course, a huge celebration.

Silly me. I thought making the decision was the hard part. After that — we just get a marriage license and Do It.

WRONG.

We don’t plan to live in England permanently. I’m merely a tourist to this country who wants to marry a Brit. Not so in the opinion of The Government who, apparently, views me as an immigrant planning to suck the country dry.

Interesting — being on the receiving side of The Immigrant Issue.

The official government website has a Requirements section for those they envision as people like me. Confusing – particularly since I’m not trying to “immigrate” to England. Which of the multitude of requirements actually addresses our situation?

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Cousin Margot to the rescue! Margot, who lives in Plymouth, actually talked with Someone Who Knows. She set up our required appointment with a Registry Official who even provided a follow-up email with bullet-points and yellow highlights — outlining the specific documents necessary for our appointment to apply for marriage in the UK.

Needless to say, I carefully studied the information in this letter and on the website.

Do we have everything we need?

Passports. Check.

My deceased husband’s death certificate. Check.

Proof of residence. Check.

Plus everything else I thought might be necessary as back-up data to prove I’m worthy of marrying an exalted citizen of the United Kingdom: Social Security and bank statements

(I won’t be a financial drain on the British System), driver license, birth certificate. Birth certificates for Peter’s children. And. Having previously dealt with Mexican paperwork, I include multiple copies of each document.

We are prepared.

We think.

On May 18, precisely at noon, we meet Carol, our UK Registry Official.

First question: “Have you booked the venue?”

“Why would we book the venue before we have the government’s blessing?”

The reply: “Permission to marry is ‘venue specific.’”

Has this been referenced in any of the literature?

No.

Let’s clarify:

Before this meeting during which the government requires a full hour of interviews (Peter and I together, then each separately) after which the interviewer sends her recommendation to the home office in London — and then these government personnel review the information and make the final decision: Can we marry in England – or not? And. This decision may come as quickly as 28 days or may perhaps take up to 70 days. (I’m told that since I’m An Immigrant, the decision will take a while.) But – back to the point: Before this meeting in which The Authorities eventually decide our suitability to marry — Before this decision is made for us by a nebulous someone, at an unknown sometime, in London — which could take over two months — We have to book the marriage venue and date?!

This is a joke – right?

They’re serious.

Before Carol can even conduct the interview, we have to secure the exact location and the date.

Is it just me, or is this counter-intuitive?

Book the venue before we even know if we can get married??

Not to mention that nowhere on the website or in any of the informational documents is this “minor detail” listed as a prerequisite.

We can, however, book the Plymouth Registry Office for the wedding.

Great.

Do we want the Quick-and-Simple (my term, not Carol’s) that includes the happy couple plus two witnesses — or do we want the Wedding Party option with a capacity for up to 55 guests? For Quick and Simple, we pay £20 to reserve, then £46 more the day of wedding, plus £4 for each copy of the certificate. The Big Room is £140 plus-plus.

Quick-and-Simple sounds perfect. Problem solved.

Oh — wait.

What if we don’t get approved before the scheduled date? Not to worry. We can change the date for only £10. (Yes. We can change the date — but not the venue.)

Done deal.

Next question:

“Do you have your passport-size pictures?”

Another minor detail not mentioned in the informational documents.

Obviously, we don’t randomly carry passport-size photos in our wallets.

No pictures. No interview.

We can’t complete this necessary part of the process today. But Carol’s willing to check our other documentation to make sure we have everything.

Passports: Fine.

Proof of residence: I produce the Council Tax bill.

Not good enough. There is no mail delivery at our residence because it’s a “holiday home.” Thus, the bill (which references our address) goes to Peter’s sister. I’d anticipated something like this so I brought along the deed and title to our house and all related correspondence. Yes. This is good. (Although we found out later, it’s not. For proof of residence, we need a current energy bill. Go figure.)

My previous husband’s death certificate: I hand her the original, state-certified document. I’m confident. Nothing can go wrong with this.

Carol studies it closely. She’s never encountered one from Colorado before.

Alas. My name on this certificate as wife of the deceased is Mary R. Denton — my maiden name.

“Why the initial R?”

Because my middle name is Raye.

“Why is the name on your passport Mary Denton Jordan?”

Because they only have space for only one middle name; my maiden name makes more sense. It ties together all my accounts.

Long pause. She needs to talk with a superior.

Carol finally returns. “Do you have a copy of your marriage certificate?”

Jim and I were married in 1989. I do have this document – – somewhere in in the bowels of my Tuff Shed on the side of a hill in Colorado, USA. Not terribly convenient.

Frown. “If you don’t have the marriage certificate, do you have another official document to connect the dots: Mary R. Jordan to Mary Denton Jordan?”

Good grief. For many years, I’ve been doing my best to assure that all accounts and documents list me as Mary Denton Jordan.

Luckily, my efforts weren’t totally successful because after searching my computer records (Yes. I brought my computer), I found one account listing me as Mary R .Jordan.

Whew! (Saved from digging through my Tuff Shed nearly halfway around the world.)

So the only thing actually holding us back are the 2”x2” photos.

Can we get them now and come back this afternoon?

Of course not. This is, after all, Wedding Season. Lots of applicants.

Next available appointment is in three weeks – June 5. Then, of course, we have to await The Decision.

But.

We have the venue.

To be continued….

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Becoming 70 ~ Not over any hill yet

19 02 2016

Recently, for some reason – Could be my upcoming 70th birthday? – I’m surrounded by reminders of age– a topic I’ve not actively entertained since reaching that milestone of official “adulthood” at age 21. (Although I did have a bout of depression when I was 25: quarter of a century. Yikes!)

But now. Approaching 70?! WTF??!! That’s old.

“Fifty is the new thirty.” “Sixty is the new forty.” But seventy??!

Seventy.

Others’ perceptions of aging — or my reality?

One of this year’s many Birth Month Celebrations on Becoming 70. Or, as my daughters put it: Approaching 21° C

At 70, my life is certainly not “over.” I inherited longevity genes. My mom died at 96 – healthy until the week prior to her death. Lucid ‘til the last day, she reminded me to pay her estimated taxes. Her mother died at 98.

I plan to live every day until the day I don’t.

Zipline over Mexico’s Copper Canyon during my five-day solo train trip a few years ago. “I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by fireside and simply look on.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I am, however, noticing disturbing bodily evolutions: in rummaging through family photos – I am my mother – my nose becoming a hook, the errant gray hair on my chin mole, neck wrinkles, crazy knots on my knuckles, thick around the middle…. Not that these are totally bad things – but – for God’s sake – -this was my mother. She was old.

I’ve lived a fulfilled life of joys, a few disasters (lessons), and exceptional adventures and memories. Yet – at 70, I’m not resting on these dubious laurels and contemplating past glories from the comfort of my rocker. I’m busy creating new memories in my glorious Now.

Let’s do another 5K run/walk – ride a river raft through the Grand Canyon – or do another just-for-fun Mud Run. Maybe climb another Colorado 14er.

Takes me a tad longer now, but I can still do it.

I travel. A lot. Maximizing standby flight “mom privileges” through my daughter with American Airlines — and particularly relish the quality time  with my incredible Granddaughters.

“There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

I’m taking language classes, practice yoga and Pilates, and regularly trek up/down the hills of my city.

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I have a younger partner/boyfriend/significant-other. And yes. Peter, my Boy Toy, and I are sexually active. (Shame on Kaiser who stops providing pap smears with annual check-ups at age 60!)

Peter and I plan to fly to England to visit his sister, take a river barge, and explore Europe. We want to visit Viet Nam and Thailand. We’ve driven across magnificent Mexico several times and, this year, we will experience more of its off-the-beaten-track side roads and mountain paths astride his Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

We have intelligent, well-traveled, interesting friends of diverse ages and nationalities with whom we regularly share stimulating conversation as well as travel adventures.

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We laugh. A lot. Every day.

We live on the side of a hill in the vibrant city of Guanajuato in central Mexico. With seven universities and Festival Cervantino, the largest music and arts festival in all of North America, Guanajuato has an abundance of young energy. Yet, my hero is the lady hobbling up the callejón/alley using her walker.

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Ten years ago, to honor my 60th birthday, I got my first (and only) tattoo. Not certain what “act of rebellion” I’ll do at 70. Perhaps I’ll use my travel benefits to circle the globe.

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Tattoo to celebrate Becoming 60.

No. I’m not ignoring the possible physical limitations of the future. I am not, however, defining myself by them.

To date, each of my decades has surpassed the one before. I’m not over any hill yet. I’m just approaching the pinnacle and anticipate exploring the adventures and peaks ahead.

Exploring peaks. Literally. This month, to experience the hundreds-of-thousands of Monarch butterflies in Michoacán, Mexico, friends and I rode horseback up the mountain Cerro Pelón  and then, at around 10,000 feet, hiked the last kilometer which was was too steep for the horse.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Satchel Paige

Inside, I’m the same me I was at age 30, 40, 50.

Or not.

Actually, I’m an ever-improving version of me.

Since I’m in a reflecting mode, I’ll honor a few of the life-altering shifts of recent years. My catalyst for major change originated with a motivational seminar which led to Master Mind groups, introspection, study, and gut-wrenching work to release ridiculous guilt. This allowed me to become the “Inevitable Me” whom I love unconditionally. Then — making the leap to sell my Colorado home and possessions to move to Mexico — enjoying being an unencumbered single woman living in a beachside paradise – then saying “Yes” to sharing the remainder of my life with the man who is truly my joy, inspiration, and soul mate — and moving to Guanajuato, a city snuggled within the Sierra Madre mountains of central Mexico.

And now?

Among the activities, I’m gifting myself time to appreciate each day’s abundance and joy.

Peter and I relish “kitten time” with two little darlings we rescued from the back of an abandoned pick-up truck. Mimi Mews (my Muse?) will snuggle down, mew a bit, pummel my neck with her soft paws, then stretch her little toes. Very endearing. But, even ten years ago, I would probably not have paused to allow this, let alone appreciate it.

Mimi Mews

Mimi Mews

And flowers. We enjoy our Pot Garden on the patio. No, not that kind of pot, although we did have a healthy plant prior to harvest.

Yes. Life is different now than when I was 30.

It’s better. Much better.

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old." George Burns

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns

“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”
Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass