It’s a strange thing. Leaving France to come back to the States. Because although I came home… it doesn’t feel like it most days.
That’s the tricky thing about having a life caught between two countries- you never fully feel “at home” in either location. At least, I don’t. In America, I feel as if I have absorbed too much French language and culture to ever fully feel content here. In France, I am brutally reminded just how American I actually am. Regardless, returning to the United States is always a bittersweet affair, and one that I am trying to find the goodness in, however difficult that may be some days.
Our vacation to France was everything I could have hoped for. Yes, the sites were beautiful. And yes, the food IS amazing. The RER is still the bane of my existence, but I only got in two arguments with local Parisians this time, so I’ll consider that a win. The most special part about the trip though, for me, was exposing Ben to the other side of his cultural identity- a challenging task here in America, no doubt. After all, baguettes and “bonjour” only get you so far this side of the Atlantic.
Throughout the trip, as he began to see just how bilingual Paris really is, he too began to use both languages willingly- something I have never seen, despite my best efforts. And although rewarding, it opened up the proverbial Pandora’s Box, whose consequences I am currently managing the best I can. Answering impossibly difficult questions to a 6 year old about why we left a country we love so much, while keeping it age appropriate, truthful, but neutral at the same time. Again, not an easy task in the slightest.
But we take it day by day. And most these days lately are consumed with finalizing his French citizenship. The French are notoriously difficult when it comes to bureaucratic matters, and I can confirm this as fact. As an example: Ben was legally established a citizen of the French Republic almost 5 years ago, and for 5 years, I have been fighting to get his French birth certificate, or “acte de naissance”, as they say in French. Of course, this has all come down to details, as it often does, but we are finally close to the finish line. And once we receive his French birth certificate from the French consulate, we will then be able to get the rest of the documents that all French citizens are required to have- primarily the national identity card and the EU passport.
Until then, we wait. It’s a slow process, undoubtedly. One that has tested me in ways that I never imagined. I’ve snapped at more people than I care to admit as a result of the stress, and have jokingly dubbed 2018 the year of my global apology tour. But someday, when this is all over, and finalized, I know it will have been worth it. Until then, as someone much more famous than me once said, “We’ll always have Paris.”. And that’s enough for me.
At least for now.