Howdy mon amie. Your cowboy coffee sure does look pretty dern good. I like how the grounds stick to your lips and give your mouth a kind of “texture” effect. It makes me trust you more and that’s why I’m going to sit down here on this hard ground by your campfire and tell you endless opinions that I have formulated. There will be moments when you think you can interrupt, but I will have designed my speech in such a way that these moments will not be quite enough time to fully get a word in. If you look like you are going to say something, I will loudly ask you for some more of your whiskey that you’ve bought and brought in to this here campsite. I will never repay you for this drink, although it will seem, at times, that I will–especially when I say, “I’ll get you back in the next town.” However, I will not. You will remember this night as the night when I drank all of your whiskey.
So, as this fire burns illuminations and shadows into these dark hills, let me tell you my recent thoughts about nationality.
Clearly, I love France. It is apparent. I like the country’s collective aesthetic. It is, at the best moments, beautifully odd. A kind of Amelie perception of the world that I quite like. It has a refined quiet sophistication. And, the cheese in French grocery stores is a lot cheaper than here and it’s tres delicieux.
However, am I really French? Will I ever really choose to take on this identity? I have just received my French marriage certificate and in four years I could become a citizen.
However, I don’t know what I will do. I do know that deep inside of me is the absolute love of the American Experiment. I find America fascinating. For me, to be an American means to be French and to be British and to want to know about Pakistan and South Africa and Mexico and to be around other Americans who come from these backgrounds. This is essentially what it means to be to live here. It is not a melting pot. It is the kitchen. It is all of us together, adding our regional spices, adding our delicious blue cheeses from Lyon, our fish of many oceans, our onions from far away soil. We aren’t the meal. We are the chefs.
Perhaps that is why I am so hopeful. I am so hopeful that this election will elect a woman I have admired for many years. I look to her and I see someone who I could be. And this, to me (and maybe not to you), but to me, is profoundly important. To me, I see someone who works hard and is extremely intelligent. It is simple. It is meaningful. She believes that the solution to understanding complication situations is in the work. And, I too, believe this. I am not always correct. I am making mistakes constantly–like this damn bisous where I accidentally kissed my British cousin on the side of his mouth at my own wedding (Merde! Oh mon dieu! Desole, David!)
So, I am not French. Really. In the end. I don’t know if I will ever claim to be anything but American. But, part of my life’s work is to understand the cultures that I don’t know. I have three months until I go back to France again and this is time where I quietly learn. I study. I read YA books in French by American and non-American authors. I watch French Ted Talks.
And, so could you pass me a sip of that whiskey, and by sip, I mean an entire glass? I know I’ve had at least four more glasses than you and I can clearly see you are angling the bottle away from me and behind your back, but it’s just such a nice night here. Sitting, watching something beautiful burn and illuminate our faces.