A month from now I have an appointment to drop off my application for French citizenship.
Sometimes when I mention to people that I’m applying to be “naturalised,” they ask me why out of curiosity.
It’s true that French citizenship will simplify a thousand little different things for me. The rectorat will stop bugging me and creating unnecessary paperwork every year while waiting for me to renew my residence card. I’ll be able to stop renewing said residence card. I’ll be able to stop paying the 100-euro yearly tax to get that residence card. I’ll be able to stop asking for my American birth certificate six months before whatever official date demands it, in spite of the fact that American birth certificates never change (unlike French ones, where your marital status is marked). If our wedding were happening later, I would be able to avoid going to Paris for a certificat de coutume, again.
Am I forgetting anything? Feel free to add to the list of minor and major inconveniences of being a (legal) foreigner in France.
But really, that’s not the reason I want citizenship. Most of those things would happen anyway after three years of marriage with J.
Sitting in an airplane as it lands in Paris still gives me a rush of satisfaction (even though I hate CDG). Walking through the downtown of a French city and looking up at the sky toward the historic buildings still gives me butterflies in my stomach. I love hearing it’s the country of “les droits de l’homme,” even if, like in the USA, that’s a value we have to defend all the time. I love the wine, the cheese, the tiny adorable villages, the weekly and daily markets. I love speaking the language, all the time.
These past couple of years I have nonetheless sometimes admitted to myself that if J and I broke up I would probably give up and move back to the States. I would probably have to, legally, but I also feel that so much of my French life has been built with him that France would be too tied to him to give me such satisfaction again alone. Who really knows. These two loves can be mixed together without me worrying too much.
Living in France has also become part of who I am and what I feel like I’m good at. When J is doing some athletic thing that I could never do, I try to remind myself that he’s never moved to a foreign country on his own, learned to speak the language fluently, and built a life out of putting two worlds together.
Add to all of these feelings the fact that J and I want to have French babies, and it’s not like I could really ever up and leave France without leaving ties behind once that happens (fingers crossed).
But my love for France will always be the first reason that I want to be French. I want to be able to politically engage, to vote and show that I care about this place and how it’s run and how that affects other French people, both new and old.