Coming to America was a watershed moment in my life. Since Dallas, my life has forever taken a different course. The shy introverted Canadian boy had entered a world that he could not imagine. Even though they are close neighbors, Canadians and Americans live worlds apart and it was taken me decades to understand how to live in this new land. In America three things happened to me: I fell in love for the first time, I took diksha and I married Kama Nagari. I am not certain which one of these events had the most impact, but it seemed that the moment I touched Kama Nagari everything in my life changed. Marrying her was like grasping hold of a tiger’s tail. Previously I had been in control, but now I began to spin out of control. With my marriage to Kama Nagari I moved into uncharted waters.
In August of 1975, Kama Nagari’s mother sent $1000 with which we were to purchase a car and come to Miami. This was our first car, a 1968 Voltswagen Beetle with 140,000 kilometers. This was one used “bug,” but it was ours and we loved her. The condition for getting the money was that we were to drive to Miami so that Bernadine and the rest of the family could meet me. A trip to Florida was not on my agenda when I decided to visit Dallas, but then again neither was marriage! I had just gotten my Canadian driver’s license a few weeks before I arrived in Dallas, and now I was going to head out across a foreign country? The adventure was to be a 2500 kilometer journey from Dallas to Miami to meet my Jewish mother-in-law. Yes, my Jewish mother-in-law. Kama Nagari was Jewish and I was about to be adopted into a Jewish family, which is a whole other story.
In our married life, which lasted eleven years, Kama Nagari and I never took a honeymoon. That would have been maya, so this trip was our substitute. The itinerary for our journey was that we would drive to Miami, spend two weeks with her family and then drive back to Dallas in time for her divorce hearing. Kama Nagari had a date in court set for August 20th. I never mentioned this, but Kama Nagari was married at the time when I met her. I never met her husband, he had long left the scene and she was in the final stages of divorce.
I am not sure why, but Kama Nagari and I got “legally” married while we were in Miami. I put quotation marks around legally because it turned out that we could not actually get married. Technically I could not marry Kama Nagari while she was still married in the state of Texas. Our Florida marriage occurred one week before Kama Nagari’s Texas divorce. This became a problem in later years when we applied for United States citizenship for our children who were born in Canada. We eventually solved the problem with the help of sympathetic immigration officer.
It never occurred to me at the time, but we could have avoided the problem by simply getting married after her Texas divorce. All we had to do was wait for a short period. I am not sure why this never occurred to us, or if it did I have no recollection of it. Perhaps we were just young, stupid and in love.