LMS has had a very eventful time recently!! We spent a week together as a family of six, after returning from Ethiopia, and then LMS went to work in Walt Disney World for the Summer as a Custodial Cast Member (Disney speak for cleaner!). She has wanted to work at Disney since we visited when she was 10 years old and chatted to an English girl working there - and now her dream was coming true :-) She would spend about three months working in Disney and then visit her American for 3 1/2 weeks before returning home. It was so hard to see her go after only seeing her for one week and it seems like it will be forever before I see her again :-(
LMS found the Custodial work very hard, especially in the Summer Florida heat! She fainted a couple of times when working outside, and after that was assigned solely to the indoor cleaning (the toilets!). One of LMS's aims in becoming a Cast Member was to give guests some of the magic we have always experienced when visiting Disney. She was able to do this for at quite a few families - one was a Mum trying to dry her toddler's wet shorts with hand towels in the toilets, LMS went to a nearby shop and purchased a new pair of shorts for the little girl, making her mother's day; another time she helped a lost teenager, staying with her and chatting to her until her family was found; another time when a young guest collapsed LMS ran to the front of the park to get a wheelchair for the youngster (she had tried radioing for one to be brought but it was taking too long). I am so proud of LMS for helping guests when she could :-)
After her stint at Disney LMS made her way to her American boyfriend's state to spend some time with him and his family. She was so looking forward to seeing him again and their relationship seems to be getting more and more serious. My baby is growing up!!!
Not long after returning from America again, it was time for LMS to return to University. I feel I haven't seen her very much at all :-( She had arranged to change her accomodation, and get a flat on her own instead of continuing to share with the group she has lived with for the past few years. This was so that American Boyfriend could come over and live with her for six months (the maximum he can visit the UK using the Visa Waiver programme) while they decide if they can make it as a couple!! However, due to Mr Messy not being able to find a viable new contract in time, we were unable to continue helping LMS with her University costs and she made the decision to suspend her year and come home. This was also due to the final year module she was studying (depression in the end stages of life!) that she hated and was depressing her, she has always wanted to be involved with working with children rather than senior citizens and found the course too hard going emotionally. It was fabulous to have her home with us, especially after not seeing her much at all in the previous months, however, it was upsetting that she had had to put off completing her degree.
After much discussion between LMS and American Boyfriend it was decided that LMS would visit him in the States for 6 months instead of him coming here. This meant that they could live in his house, his sister would move back in with their parents for the duration of LMS's visit and that he could carry on working at his job. LMS duly got all the documentation from American Boyfriend that she needed to apply for a Visa (UK visitors to the US can only stay for 3 months without a Visa) paid her fees and went to London to the American Embassy. Unfortunately, she was turned down!! Apparently Embassy officials are trained to assume that anyone young (with no financial/family ties to their home country) wanting to visit for that long is wanting to either work in the States illegally or is intending to stay and not return home. We found this out by researching after LMS was turned down! Although LMS has admitted even if we had found out beforehand she would have been too optimistic and excited about seeing American Boyfriend again to have done anything differently. She immediately applied for an ESTA Visa Waiver (the online version of that form you used to fill in on the plane) but was turned down for that too, obviously her name now has a black mark against it in the US Visa computer programme :-( This means that everytime she wishes to visit the United States she must visit the American Embassy (paying their fee of course) to apply for a Visa :-( As we regularly holiday in America, and she has a serious relationship with an American this was GUTTING for her :-(
LMS and American Boyfriend picked themselves up from this disappointment and tried to work out a solution. They were both still determined to spend 6 months together in one country or the other and their only option now seemed to be for American Boyfriend to come here to the UK. This was all arranged and he arrived just after Christmas, so that they could spend New Year together. They spent a few days staying over in the city near the airport, where they went to the Panto, visited family and spent time together.
LMS had taken out a lease on a small flat in the next village to us for them to live in together, and the lease started on 1st January. Unfortunately due to the unexpectedly bad snow and the fact that I broke two bones in my foot and damaged my back (falling down stairs - while stone cold sober!!), and continuing tight funds we were unable to arrange for the flat to be furnished until well into January. But careful shopping at second hand places, borrowing from very kind friends and hitting the sales we eventually got them moved into their first place together. Its very sweet and they seem very proud of it :-) They do seem to be having "teething troubles" getting used to living together and overcoming both cultural misunderstandings on both sides, and American Boyfriend's missing home comforts and feeling useless because he isn't allowed to work. But they are being very grown up (mostly!!) and working through their problems and seem to be getting on much better as the weeks go by.
LMS has had to get herself a job, and in our rural area she hasn't got much choice and has ended up as a casual worker for a firm of cleaners. She's in a catch 22 situation - to get a better job (even in a supermarket!) she needs a car, but to afford a car she needs a better job! Hopefully once Mr Messy gets established in his contrat we will be able to help them out more and maybe buy them a small runaround!
Their long term plan, currently, is for American Boyfriend to stay here until May, then return home and apply to come back to the UK on a Fiance Visa (which means they have 6 months to get married)! That is assuming that they get along well enough and don't kill each other before then lol. LMS isn't sure that she wants to finish her degree, but seems to be coming round to mine and her Dad's point of view - that she'd be daft to abandon it now when she is so close! Her new boss made a remark that seems to have persuaded her the most - that the boss wouldn't employ someone who had given up their degree after 2 years, as it would seem to show lack of commitment. She isn't totally convinced that she should go back, and the difficulties she is facing finding accomodation for if she does return isn't helping!! But me and her Dad feel it would be for the best and that the top class degree she is predicted to get would be a great help in getting future employment! She has also changed her mind about her career goals, initially she wanted to be a Child Psychologist, then she changed her mind and wanted to be an Early Years Teacher and now she has changed her mind again and wants to run a small hotel! Watch this space....
Anyway back to the long term plans - after getting married and finishing (fingers crossed!) her degree they would spend two years here so that American Boyfriend can gain British Citizenship. Then they would move to the States for the three years it would take LMS to gain American Citizenship. LMS is excited at the prospect of seeing more of America and it will help both of them decide where they would like to settle down.
Obviously I'm sad that they will be spending so long away from here, but I also acknowledge that this is their life and they have to walk their own path. I wish them all the very best and hope that spending the next few months together can help them decide if they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Its such a HUGE decision they have to make, in such a comparitively short time! And not only that, becoming a couple will mean that one or the other of them has to leave behind their country and family, unless of course they settle somewhere else completely! They seem so young too (although I was married and expecting LMS at her current age!!). I hope they make the decisions that make them both happy.