I love South Africa. I love my South African husband, I love my home (although I definitely want to get a bigger house ASAP), I love my cats and I love my day to day life here. It was a choice we made to settle in Joburg, and despite the ridiculous Rand/Dollar exchange rate, I’m still feeling like it was a good decision to make.
Of course, it isn’t always easy. I’m not just talking about cultural differences or contexts that I’m still discovering after seven years here. Those are mostly entertaining or interesting for me, and a whole load of fun. No, I’m talking about how this country continues to make me feel like a stranger in a strange land.
Dean and I got married in Community of Property. I know, I know, that was probably some fatal mistake and all of you will now think I’m an idiot. But, from when we started dating, we always just took care of each other. If he had money, he’d stock my fridge and when I had cash I’d restock his. We’d take turns buying each other drinks or dinners and it was generally just a balanced exchange without really needing to talk about it. When I decided to move to South Africa to be with him, he wanted for everything to be shared, giving me full powers on his bank account and we always treated our money as just that – OUR money.
When we got married, I didn’t want to change that. Besides, how could we divide it all up for a prenup when we were already living together and our lives so intermingled?
Anyway, so we’re married in COP, which is psychologically awesome, but logistically less awesome. We want to get a bond for a new house now that we’re earning more money and growing the family. However, FNB has to treat us BOTH as foreigners because I’m foreign, so we are only eligible for a 50% loan, or a bond from other banks at ridiculous terms.
And then there was my day today. I need to reapply for my temporary residency permit again – this has to be kept current regardless of my marital or inseminated status. I go through an immigration lawyer because it cuts down on the stress of doing the application myself, but it’s still not exactly fun. I still had to run around getting copies of my ID, getting the police to stamp it and then going for fingerprints. Luckily, the Douglasdale police station is lovely and they make the experience as nice as possible, but it’s still just distinctly unpleasant.
I’ve been asked if Dean and I will fly overseas for me to give birth (the answer is no), and I get the justification. But healthcare here is fantastic, and this IS our home. Plus, as an American citizen, that will get passed to Princess Harley as well as her South African citizenship – at least until she’s 18. But geez, I just wish this whole international relationship thing could be easier. And I’ve just realized the amount of bureaucracy I’m going to need to wade through when Harley is born to get her American birth certificate and passport organized.
Time to load up Papers, Please! and start practicing.