At the age of 11, Julissa Arce came to the United States with a visa that had expired three years later. For more than a decade, she lived as an undocumented immigrant for fear of divulging her secret. “Any phone call or email I received from Human Resources would freeze my blood,” she wrote in her Modern Love Essay.
And when it came to love, she lied to almost every man she was with for fear of exposure and deportation.
In today’s episode, we hear about Julissa’s search for love – and what she taught about isolation and intimacy. Then we hear from two Modern Love listeners who kept their love alive across borders during the pandemic.
‘I’ve played our reunion over and over in my head.’
Greg Cope White is a Santa Monica, California based screenwriter; his partner Bob lives in Montreal. They have been together for almost 15 years.
They were used to spending time apart, usually a month at a time. But after Covid struck and introduced travel restrictions, they were forced to be apart for much longer – since January 2020.
To keep in touch, they practice a daily ritual that has become their salvation. When it’s 3:30 p.m. for Greg (and 6:30 p.m. for Bob) there is an elaborate “live Skype cooking show”. They spend the next few hours helping each other to cook, enjoying the food, watching a movie on the common screen and exchanging ideas. You haven’t missed a single day since the pandemic started.
Recognition…Greg Cope White
“I was trapped in the United States and he was in Spain.”
Was it love at first sight? Probably. Valentina Marinovich and Rafael Pavón De Gregorio met about four years ago on a zebra crossing in New York City. She is from Chile; He is from Spain.
After a long-distance relationship, they were finally ready to move in together in early 2020. Then the pandemic struck.
Valentina, who was studying in New York City, returned to Chile while Rafael was in Spain. The two decided to get married so that Rafael could enter Chile due to the country’s ban on entry.
Since they were not yet in the same country, Valentina had a proxy marriage with an acquaintance who represented Rafael. “We got married in this tiny office while my boyfriend was at the dentist,” said Valentina. “I’m not going to say it was romantic because it wasn’t.”
Until October 2020, Valentina and Rafael were able to reunite in Santiago, Chile. She showed up at the airport early in anticipation. “It all came back to me – the smell, the feel of his beard on my cheeks,” she said.