Familiar face to return to Downtown Memphis


I have some big news to reveal to you this morning, concerning a face from the past and concerning my own status.

Liana, one of the Romanian girls who worked here summers 2003-06, will be returning to Memphis soon. Liana has been mentioned many times in this blog before, usually under the nickname The Romanian Sensation.

Since leaving Memphis in October 2006, she has since graduated from medical school and has become an MD. That means she’s no longer eligible to live in America under the college student/cultural exchange visa that she used for four years. Really, the only way she would be able to come to the States and live here long-term is if she were engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen. Which brings me to the big news, and I know this will shock some of you.

I’m getting married.

I know that will come as a huge surprise to most of you, considering that I routinely refer to marriage as “The Ultimate Mistake,” and also because Liana and I did not exactly part on the best of terms when she left 18 months ago. The last night she worked at the Saucer I ran up my highest tab to that point – $48 – and left her a horrible tip, out of anger at her for the way I perceived she had treated me that summer. The nasty exchanges continued once she returned home to Romania, as she and I exchanged insults via e-mail and Yahoo Messenger for a period of several months.

But late last year things began to change. She began to send me Yahoo Messenger text messages telling me that she missed me, and how sorry she was that things had ended on such a bad note. Eventually I downloaded Skype, bought a webcam and moved the conversation there. “Paul, I would really like to see you again,” she said. “And I really wish I could live and work in Memphis. I am so bored here in Romania. But there is no way. I cannot get a cultural exchange visa anymore. There is no way your country will let me come back.”

Being the Wikipedia junkie that I am, I pulled up its page on the different types of U.S. visas. There I learned that as a U.S. citizen, I have the right to petition the USCIS for a K visa for a fiancee, allowing her to enter the states, giving her 90 days to get married and adjust her status to permanent legal resident. And I got to thinking about all the good times we shared together… such as the way she stared deeply into my eyes at Rapscallion Party I (where the pic shown above was taken). I knew I had to do it. So I got on Skype, pointed the webcam at myself, got down on one knee, and asked, “Liana, will you marry me?”

She was thrilled and accepted right away. “Paul, I will be so happy to be your wife,” she said. “You are exactly the kind of man I always wanted to marry. Because, you are not jealous. You know that I have many… friends in Memphis who I like to see, and I know you are okay with that.” She did express a concern that the adjustment could be a little bit difficult, with her moving from a country 5000 miles away. “Your apartment is only 900 square feet,” she commented. “Don’t you think that we might get in each other’s way sometimes? It would be good for me to have my own space to go to, for times when I need it. Of course, I plan on being with my husband most of the time.” I told her I understood completely and got on Craigslist. I found an open condo in Barton Flats that is being rented back out for $1700 a month, and signed a lease for it, while at the same time keeping the lease on my own apartment. The Barton Flats condo will be her own space that she can go to when she feels she needs it.

I told several of my close friends about the wedding plans earlier this week. I’d like to say I have their full support, but unfortunately I don’t. A few of them scrunched up their faces when I told them, and one of them even made a snide “not good enough for you” remark. I was a little hurt. However, I feel sure that once they are around her a little more, they will see all the good qualities in her that I see – her tactfulness, her honesty, her courtesy, her trustworthiness. My God I am so lucky to have her.

I’m trying to pick out a location for the wedding. There isn’t a Romanian Orthodox congregation in town, and I’m nonreligious, so getting married in a church is out of the question. I was thinking of maybe renting out the Metal Museum. They have that beautiful gazebo in the back yard (and it’s not full of bums like Court Square’s gazebo). If you know of other locations around town I should look into, let me know. I never thought I’d be planning a wedding, so this is all new to me. One thing I absolutely demand, though, is an open bar at the wedding reception and a budget for cab fare/car service home for any guest who needs it. I discussed it with Liana, and she is fine with that.

Liana is undecided whether she will get a job as an MD at one of the local hospitals once she’s legal to work in the US, or go into private practice, or return to her old job as a waitress at the Flying Saucer.

Liana, I know you’re reading this at home in Romania. I love you more than the moon and stars and can’t wait to spend my life with you.

And that’s the news for today, April 1, 2008.