I've been so vacationed out that I completely forgot my own 1st Frenchiversary! It was one year ago August 8th that the French government decided that I was worthy to become a citoyenne and registered me as a French national. Of course, they didn't get around to informing me about this honor for three weeks more, but since they DID decide to keep me, I got over it.
Things I did this year that made me feel French:
- the citizenship ceremony
- rooting for France in the World Cup
- traveling with my French passport or ID card instead of my American papers
- and voting, which made the biggest impression of all.
In my heart, I will always identify as American first; its where my roots are and where both my character and my outlook on life were primarily informed. But even before I became French on paper, a part of me has always felt just a tiny bit French, too. Or at least I was strongly attracted to French things, French culture, the French language -- whether that attraction could actually make me French from the inside out is debatable.
It's still a strange feeling, this having two countries. I don't know what it's like for other people who have gone through this -- do you ever really feel like you belong in your new country? I still think I'll somehow always be an outsider in France, if for no other reason than my accent will give me away every single time.
But I'm so thankful for what having French nationality means for our life together, me and Georges. No more having to retain reams of documents to prove myself and our marriage. No more having to worry about interviews and scrutiny and what sort of curve balls they might throw at us (yeah, I know that's an American expression because the French don't "do" baseball). Life is just life now, same as for everyone else here: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. I have earned the right to grumble and call politicians bad names in French and to bitch about having to wait in lines. I have earned the right to protest something if I don't like it -- and I already have. I have earned the right to fight for the history and culture of my adopted country, although I never thought I'd end up doing that. And I especially like telling some French person, when I meet them and they inquire about my origins (based on that tell-tale accent) that I'm FRENCH-American, and watching their surprise turn to an accepting smile. It's like, "Okay, I know you weren't born here, but now you're one of us, you passed the test."
Passed the test, indeed. And proud of it. Merci, la France. I'm glad to be one of you.