We arrived back in Paris a couple of hours ago to pouring rain, and it's about 12 degrees (Celsius) colder here than when we left Saint Raphael. Not so great a start to our rentrée, but at least we got a taxi fairly quickly.
Then, on arriving home, we discovered a clean house (thanks to Les Grands who have been camping here while we've been away -- they're apartment hunting) but not much left in the fridge, so I hot-footed it over to the mini-market across the street. I was so tired, but wanted to just get it done so I could come home and collapse.
When I got back and was unpacking groceries with Georges in the kitchen, my step-son comes in and asks me: "So, who did you kill?" And I was all, "Er... huh?"
And he handed me a letter from the Préfecture de Paris.
Of course they never arrest you with a letter, so I knew it had to be about my nationality dossier. I wasn't expecting anything from them because the mandatory one-year waiting period wouldn't even be up until some time in October. I got a bit nervous when I saw the envelope because I thought, "Oh, GREAT, they probably want ANOTHER stupid interview with MORE stupid documents or else they LOST one of my original documents and now they're going to try and make it ALL MY FAULT."
Imagine my shock when I read the words:
Madame, J'ai le plaisir de vous informer que votre déclaration de nationalité a fait l'objet d'un enregistrement.
Madame, I have the pleasure of informing you that your declaration of nationality has been registered.
Oh. My. God. You guys... I am FRENCH. Je suis une vraie française!
And it only took 10 months. There is a form attached that I need to fill out and turn in when I go to the ceremony (September 12) where I receive my official documentation. This form is for me to notify the French authorities of what other nationalties I currently hold, and which ones I am either keeping or renouncing. That's a real short answer for me: USA and KEEPING IT. But on that paper it notes that my application was initially accepted on October 5, 2012, and that my nationality was officially registered on August 8th (the letter I got was dated August 20th and postmarked the 21st so I've actually been French for 18 days and didn't even know it). So that's 10 months. Other people have been telling me that the response time I was getting in terms of my interviews being scheduled so quickly last year, that this was faster than normal, and I have no way to account for this except to say that it makes me feel like Sally Fields accepting her Oscar for "Norma Rae" (or was it "Places in the Heart") when she gushed: "You LIKE me, you really LIKE me."
I guess France just really likes me. Or more likely, I just happened to get my application in at a time when maybe the fonctionnaires didn't have too big a paperwork backlog last fall and somehow it just managed to zip through.
In any event, there will be champagne flowing tonight chez nous, just to have a little celebration. I won't really celebrate until the ceremony is done and I have those papers that will let me apply for a French passport (I think they're going to take away my Carte de Séjour at the ceremony so I won't be able to travel out of France without the passport - if possible I plan to go directly from the ceremony to the passport office which is in another building on Ile de la Cité). At the moment I mostly feel relieved because I will never again have to go through the hell of accumulating all manner of documents to re-prove myself and my marriage, over and over again, just so that I can live a normal life with my husband. After this, I'll just have to renew my French passport every 10 years the way I will continue doing with my American one. I'll be like everyone else in France. I will no longer be just an ex-pat (although from an American point of view, I'll always be that, too) and I will no longer being a foreigner. I am French.
Et voila! I used to dream about being a little French girl when I was young. It only took five decades for me to make it happen.
Better start to practice singing La Marseillaise. Vive la France!