Today is the 30th anniversary of me moving to this country to live with Kelley. (As opposed to the 30th anniversary of meeting and falling in love with her a year and a half earlier. And the 6th and 26th anniversaries of us getting married. Which we also celebrate. Carpe party!)

Here’s a photo of me, taken in Kelley’s tiny apartment in Duluth, Georgia, on her 29th birthday. It was the second to last night of a 6-week visit for us to decide if what we had was real, and, more to the point, strong enough to get us through all the hardships ahead.

short-haired smiling woman in summer clothes holding glass of champagne and smiling

Taken in Duluth, Georgia, before flying back to the UK to pack my stuff and (ten weeks later) leave forever

That day thirty years ago was hard. I left my family and friends, my partner of ten years, the culture I knew and belonged to, and came–on a tourist visa, good only for six months–to a country where I had no job, no health benefits, and no welcome (it was illegal to even enter the country as a lesbian). I had no money. I was also ill, with what was eventually diagnosed as MS, and broke. Saying the move was stressful is an understatement.

But, hey, it turned out pretty well. We’re married. We share a life built on shared work and love. And I’m now a dual citizen. Life is good.