Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I’ve been a French citizen since October 22, 2009!

 …And I only found out about it this past Monday, November 2nd, after our letter carrier came by with the mail.

When I saw the three envelopes from the French Ministry of the Interior (one addressed to me, one to Mr Mo, and the third to Youngest), I have to say that I steeled myself against a refusal: surely we were being informed that, sorry, there was something wrong with the (mountains of) papers you submitted, so you can’t become French, try again.

Mr Mo heard my whoops and hollers as I tore open my envelope and saw these words: J’ai le plaisir de vous faire savoir que vous êtes Française depuis le 22 octobre 2009. — “It is my pleasure to inform you that as of October 22, 2009, you are a French citizen.”

Mr Mo guessed what had produced my unusual cries even before I got up the stairs with the letters.

Well then, hot damn — dual nationality. The news reduced our Youngest to tears of joy and more than one skype-based panegyric (if such a thing can be thus described). And I, too, have felt misty-eyed off and on since receipt of my letter. (I’ve been too busy with work up until now to say anything.) My French friends have been congratulatory, and it is possible that we will be honored at a village ceremony (which will have to wait until December at the earliest, given our schedules; but I rather suspect this may be put off until all of our official papers are ready — see below).

Yes, the advantages of French citizenship are manifold: we can grow old(er) and retire here without worry, if that is what we choose to do; we can legally work anywhere in the European Union without difficulty; and Youngest can go to university here without it costing a fortune. But I have also been reflecting on the responsibilities that come with having requested and been granted French citizenship, and these go rather beyond simply being able to vote in the next election.

The same letter that conveyed the Ministry official’s pleasure at informing me of my French naturalization also informed me that it will take about six months before all of our French documents will be ready; among these are our French birth certificates (!), identity papers, a letter from Monsieur le Président de la République, and a booklet (I assume it will be a booklet) explaining about how the French government is organized, our rights and duties, and so on.

With respect to this last — the booklet — I expect to read it more than once so that I will thoroughly understand what is expected of me, and what I can expect from the country we have called home for the past eight years.

I doubt very much that I would ever run for office on any level. And while I will most certainly vote, having now seen a glimpse of the unseemly side of even our local political landscape here in tiny Quinson, it’s not clear to me how actively involved I want to be in terms of joining a particular party. We’ll see. But I have an interest in certain French and European issues, as does Mr Mo, not the least of which has to do with the ghastly “Hadopi” law. We now have the right to make our voices heard now as citizens of the European Union as well as of la belle France.

And I’m still having a hard time believing that we actually managed to be accorded French citizenship. It will probably be easier to believe after we have all of our papers in hand, including a French EU passport to add to our American passport.


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