Hello, world! I’m a dual citizen now! I know.
That’s me and Jamie at my ceremony, along with the Lord Mayor of Hobart in his pirate king regalia. Every new citizen received a native plant, which I thought was a nice gesture. (Mine is a melaleuca, or paperbark. It will grow far too large for our garden, but I stuck it in a pot for now and will plant it out in the bush one day.)
I don’t have any profound thoughts on citizenship, nor do I have fierce national pride either way. While it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, it is a milestone, and I’m counting my blessings that I have two safe, pleasant enough places full of people I love that I can call home.
Will I lose my American citizenship — NO
Do I have to submit two tax returns — YES
Will I vote in two countries and carry two passports — YES
Do I enjoy, or understand, beetroot and Vegemite and cricket — NO
I guess you could say I came here because of a guy. I met Jamie several years ago in Melbourne, though we’d been in contact online for over a year prior. I loved being in Melbourne; coming from the beige suburban sprawl of Arizona, I loved being in a city with trains and pretty Victorian architecture and I didn’t want to go back. It also turned out that I really hit it off with that sweet boy from Tasmania. We took a trip together along the Great Ocean Road, and he offered to let me stay with him in Hobart for a few weeks and I accepted. It felt too good to let go, so we did the long-distance thing until I finished my fine arts degree and joined him in Australia.
I’m aware that my visa/citizenship journey was easy street compared to most others, on account of being a white English-speaking westerner with an Australian partner. I’m very fortunate to have had this opportunity and the means to make it happen. Still, it required plenty of time and effort in making sure everything was done to the letter. As de facto (common-law) partners, we had to submit a fat stack of evidence proving our shared life together, so when people question our ‘level of commitment’ (on account of living in sin) I have to laugh. (FYI: If there’s anyone reading who wants advice on the visa process, especially for Americans, email me and I’m happy to share what I know.)
I like it here, I like the quality of life and work-life balance and guaranteed public health system. I like living in such a picturesque town, it still gives me a thrill every time I cross the Tasman Bridge and get a good look at the Mt Wellington foothills. (My brother called it earth porn when he came for a visit.) I don’t like how expensive everything is, and sometimes I wish I lived in a more culturally diverse part of Australia, a big metro with more jobs and opportunities on offer, but I like the beauty and seasons of Tasmania and I know full well our dollars wouldn’t stretch nearly as far in Melbourne or Sydney. We wouldn’t be able to own a house there, not with $600,000 median housing prices, and we wouldn’t be able to travel or live as well as we’d like. So there is the reality of living somewhere versus being on holiday. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Hobart or even in Australia for keeps, but right now I’m happy here with my house and cat and boyfriend.
We had a few people over this weekend to celebrate and my friends, bless ‘em, celebrated my citizenship with Aus/American fusion foods. (To be fair: most ‘Australian food’ applies to New Zealand as well. Both y’alls can claim pavlova.) THANK YOU GUYS for coming over and celebrating with me, it was such good fun. I provided a few American goodies — salsas, bean dip, cornbread, red velvet cake, and Junior Mints (it’s surprising, what imports turn up at the dollar store). Jamie cooked sausages on the grill. STRAYA.
Here’s a sampling of the things my talented friends made:
- An American flag made out of lamingtons
- A breathtaking Freedom Trifle with red, white, and blue custard cream
- Peanut butter & jelly lamingtons — these made up the base of the Freedom Trifle
- Chili cheese fries made with kangaroo mince
- Cat nachos!
Later, we gave this tabletop some action. I made it for the occasion, can you tell? My home state has the coolest flag in the Union, so there. The party was good fun, and I’m fortunate to have a good group of friends and family over here.
Speaking of family, this is a photo that couldn’t be more Australian than if it too were made out of lamingtons. It’s a bit of a sharp turn from the Arizona-beer-pong-table photos, but it means a lot to me.
I took this photo last April of my father-in-law, with his stallion Finn, who is fully dressed up for the local ANZAC Day memorial. The gum trees in the background are reddish-brown because of a recent bushfire. I’m stuck for words on articulating everything this means to me — culture, family, the lot — but I’ll say that they’re remarkable, the both of them, and I’m grateful for everyone who has taken me in and made me feel at home both here and there.