Dual citizenship

A couple weeks ago I went to the German consulate, armed with originals and copies of my birth certificate, my U.S. passport, my German passport, 2 recent non-smiley photos, and my divorce decree. I also had copies of my dad's German passport, his green card, and my parents' marriage license, just in case. The goal: renew my German passport. Last time, it did not go so smoothly. This time, I was prepared and totally confident that I had everything required, nay, MORE than required. What I needed, obvs, was just to be more GERMAN about the whole thing. Unsurprisingly, it totally worked. Not only that, but the consulate worker insisted on speaking German to me the whole time. No matter how many times I responded in English, she persisted auf Deutsch. And after I calmed my heart palpitations and rubbed a little ointment on my hives, it turned out I was fine. I understood! I gave her the right documents! I appeared competent! I even worked up the courage for a couple responses of my own—you've never heard such a perfectly accented "Auf wiedersehen." That, combined with the near constant discussion of the German language that's been going on in the Bossy-Melear household, has been making me feel especially German of late.

Today we had lunch with The Soprano from Wisconsin and her German boyfriend, who's visiting the States for the first time in his life. He is so excited to be here, and especially to try all the foods he's never had. We chose our fave bbq joint, where he had his first beef short rib, his first grits, his first mac and cheese, and his SECOND queso (only because he went to Mama Ninfa's last night—and it's his new favorite food). We ended up talking culture shock for quite a while. His perspective on American TV is one of the funniest things I've heard: in one evening of watching, he was highly entertained by pretty much every commercial he saw, endlessly amused by Cheaters, and convinced that he needed to go to Red Lobster for dinner. He's completely wowed by American customer service and the friendliness of strangers, and isn't sure how to respond when people say "How are you doing?". I suddenly realized how much I'm going to miss all those things I take for granted.

And then tonight CM and I took in a baseball game, that most American of activities. We root root rooted for the home team, although it didn't seem to make a difference. We ate pretzels dipped in cheese sauce (the amount of cheese we consumed today must be some kind of record) and drank wildly overpriced beer. We sang "Take me out to the ballgame" and clapped along to "Deep in the heart of Texas" during the 7th-inning stretch. And we stared at the amazing people sitting in front of us. There was the woman who danced like a maniac at the slightest provocation and yelled ridiculous instructions to the players, while her stoic husband barely cracked a smile the entire evening. There was the girl who had brought her own fuzzy beer cozy to wrap around her oversized novelty bottle of Miller Lite (see below). When she wasn't drinking, she was having her split ends snapped off by her sister next to her. They looked like monkeys grooming each other. Only in America (she said, crossing her fingers that it was true).

I've rarely felt much real nationalistic pride, with a notable exception being November 4, 2008. I don't get excited about flags or the 4th of July, and I don't know the lyrics to "Proud to be an American." Honestly, I've always felt that in a lot of ways that count, European countries are superior to this one, and I've been wanting to move "across the pond" for years.

For some reason, though, it really hit me today: I am 100%, without a doubt, can't pretend to be anything other than American. And no matter which passport I'll be traveling on (whichever gets me into the shortest customs line, that's which), that's never going to change. And I can't wait to sit in a restaurant in Vienna, eating schnitzel and telling the Austrians how crazy and hilarious their country is.

Or maybe I'll just tell you.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to hear about your trials/tribulations/adventures/wonderful discoveries in Vienna. Remember, I'm right down the road...And I have a feeling you'll be crossing several items off your To Do List over the next several months.


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