On this day of decisions, soul-searching (for some), defiance (for others), the walk to the polling station is one of the small gestures that binds a people together. It’s a walk three of my children have taken today, and I’m proud that they take their civic duties seriously. I won’t be walking with my friends and family because I have never asked for French nationality. It never seemed of much importance. I am Irish, an Irishness that was learned, handed down, taught at home and at school because I was an immigrant. I never lived in Ireland, only ever visited. My life was elsewhere, always has been, still is. My Irishness has never been something taken for granted, but a positive statement.
On this Election Day, I wonder if I have been wrong about the nature of Frenchness and what part of it, if any, belongs to me. What does it mean exactly to belong? Do I belong? My children don’t understand the problem. They have their Irish passports and French carte d’identité. Friends are surprised that I am still not a card-carrying French citizen. They don’t understand either. This fraught period of our history has opened my eyes to my own ideas about belonging. This is my place. These are my adopted people. There seems no valid reason for not taking the plunge and adding a second nationality to my allegiances. Perhaps this will be the last presidential election that I will stand by the side of the road and watch everyone else walk by.
Morning dawns the same
for all, night stars fade, moon sets
and the sun rises.