Thursday, March 21, 2013

To The Sea, to the sea - Song of a Hopeful Immigrant

"When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused."- Rainer Maria Rilke

Eleven years ago, during my second day visiting the US West Coast, while sitting on top of the cliff and watching the crashing waves pound the shore, I thought to myself: "I wish I can live here. Here where I do not have to take a vacation to experience the ocean. Here where I do not have to travel far to enjoy the washing of the waves after a day's work. For work and the ocean are intertwined."

Though I came from a country of many beautiful islands, and many beautiful beaches, but somehow.... work and the ocean were not that close to each other. Work was always in the city. To experience pristine beaches, I had to be away from the city. I had to take a few days vacation to be enjoying the sea. Enjoying pristine and quiet beaches was luxury. I had to spend both money and time to be enjoying the sea fully.
During my first meeting with the rugged West Coast, as I continued to hear the waves pounding, the longing to be with the sea everyday was also heavily pounding my heart. Silently, I prayed.....
"God, would it be selfish of me to ask you to help me explore life here? I love much. But, I do not know whether it is wrong for me to desire to live here.  Please know, I will accept whatever path you will make for me....please grant me courage and strength to explore life here...."

I will stop there, for that was a very long conversation with God. Probably, very few Filipino tourists in America would spend their time all day at the beach alone because we take pride in our country having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. However, I did on that day. I had a full day of quietly reflecting by the ocean, talking my heart out to our Lord. A few days after that, I met an "outdoorsy California guy" who later in my life added fuel to my "California Dreaming". I did not know then if I should take it as a sign of "prayers being slowly worked on".
My first visit was short as I only was an accidental tourist that time, no plans of exploring a life in America. However, eight months after my first meeting of the rugged Pacific ocean in the US West Coast, I submitted a letter of application for 6 months leave of absence to the Vice President of the University I worked for. Asked why, my simple response: " I want to give it a try to find a job in America." 

Almost a year later since that day I asked God to give me the courage and strength to explore a life in America, I went back with some strong hopes of finding a job. One of my former students advised me to talk to an immigration lawyer. He told me that if I wanted to work in America for good and legally, I should probably stick with my profession. He said that immigration law would prohibit me from getting work visa or green card by employment if I seek unprofessional jobs, or some other "easy to get under the table" jobs because they are hard to justify as a "need". Heeding the advise of my student, I went to see the immigration law firm he referred. He said that they were  the same immigration law firm that processed his H1B or work visa and then his green card successfully.

Comprising of attorneys focusing solely on immigration law, the lawyers of the firm were very sharp in giving me career advise to migrate legally and successfully. After my appointment with the immigration firm, I was then enlightened what kind of jobs I should look for that would have greater acceptance for visa change status approval. The lawyer explained, if I get a job as secretary or office assistant, the INS would deny my application for change of status because: 1. It is hard to justify that America lacks those skills. 2. The job is not related to my degree.

With God's blessings, in less than a month after I talked to the lawyer, I found a Chemistry and Physics teaching position in a College Prep Academy. The immigration law firm I consulted previously was the one who processed the papers for my employer to sponsor me. My first job in America did not bring me to live the California dream that was conceived eleven years ago. I would be working in Connecticut, a State where I knew NO ONE but my soon to be employer and colleagues. I accepted it as God's best plan, for me to experience first the US North East Coast. So I will have no doubt should my heart continue to seek the Pacific waves and beat for that "outdoorsy California guy".  
More than a year after working in the East Coast, I was back to California. Back to live the dream that was born that day I was sitting on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 
A dream to be intertwined with the sea....
To live life simply.....
To the sea....
To the sea.....
Bonus...with that "outdoorsy California guy" I met a few days after the California dream was born. 

~  all pictures are from San Diego ~
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  1. whew.....can't wait to read the full story about that "guy" you met eleven years ago Betchai!!!!!!!! super duper love this post! as I have said earlier I am yearning to read more of your accidental tourist story :) and I have to add, the photos are overwhelmingly beautiful that I am wishing I too could go to the sea...there! :) I always admire your being so prayerful...God must have had truly a plan...the third photo with your flying friends' wings reflected is what amazes me so much here....and yep that last photo with the love of your life :) love yah...p.s. at work again and de-stressing here :)

  2. I don't know what to say but all I know is you are so blessed by God for answering all your prayers Ate Betchai. I so love the way you tell your story about your dream of living in the West Coast. And just like Doc Zen, I am also excited to read more about that "outdoorsy Californian guy" of yours. Haha

    1. Visiting back here again for FBF Comex Ate Betchai. Have a blessed weekend!

  3. My hubby loves to be in the ocean too and we can' t afford to live plus his job is more in the city or in the middle of nowhere.I love your story and waiting the "Outdoorsy California guy".

  4. these are absolutely stunning photographs of the ocean. you must be very lucky to have lived in the west coast. does it ever get cold there in the winter time?

  5. all the pictures are so nice..
    I love the sea a lot.. see all the birds flying..

  6. YAY! This is the first ever post that I read of your hubby as the "outdoorsy California guy", Te Betchai :-) I must say this is one of my fave posts here at your blog. I demand for a Part 2, if it's not too much to do so. LOL!

    Thanks for sharing your lovely California Dreaming and how it was like when it was still in the works so many years back. You are an amazing woman truly blessed by God, Te Betchai :-)

  7. Here are your photographs again, so beautiful! My family also wishes to move to a place close to the ocean. It will be a lot more homey if we could. Aside from that, we have had enough of the looooooong winter we're having here in Wisconsin! Lol.

  8. WOW! what a story. dream come true. i had to read this post two, er, three times. i delve on your immigration tips. who knows, i have kids, i gotta tick on your tips for it might be useful when they start dreaming what you dream.

    the photos are really amazing. but, more than that, i fell in love with your story.

    keep the posts coming.

  9. you're so lucky sis. God is always generous, He always gives us what we deserve and you are deserving of that blessing maybe the ocean told Him that you really want it that bad? hehehe lovely photos as usual :)

  10. I believe God has seen your genuine motive in dreaming a quiet life in the US. God is really good on you. Why? I can only say.. You always put God first in every aspect of your life.

  11. You are so blessed! Enjoy and live the moment and continue taking snapshots of God's masterpiece.

  12. here you are again, i was always mesmerized with your beautiful pictures, i kept coming back, up and down...looking on your beautiful pictures, wishing someday i can see those or be an accidental tourist like you although i got my bonus already, hehehe! kinilig naman po ako Ate, i can't wait to read your story about that bonus! *winks*