A two-nation man

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2005: Typing citizenship application on my 1923 Royal.

THE MOVEMENT of time fascinates me — calendars, watches, wall clocks, birthdays, anniversaries. You name it, I’m on it.

What is it today? My Mexican citizenship, 15 years now. I applied in January 2005*, and the papers were delivered in December of that same year.

Within a month, I had a Mexican passport. Citizenship does not come with a passport. You do that separately. Or not. I remain an American citizen, of course, and I renewed my U.S. passport two years ago at the consulate in San Miguel de Allende, a useless act. I don’t need it anymore, and not renewing it would not affect my U.S. citizenship. It was a waste of time and money. I have no intention of crossing the border again.

It was a knee-jerk action on my part.

Becoming a Mexican citizen was easy. I filled out a form that was similar to the form to renew my visa. I paid a fee (about $100 U.S. if memory serves), and I waited. That was it. The process is more complicated now, I’m told. A language test, a Mexican history and culture test, some other hurdles, none of which did I have to do.

I did speak briefly to the clerk in Spanish. Perhaps that was a language test, but there was no written requirement of anything. Piece of cake.

On just two occasions in the past 15 years have I had to salute the Mexican flag, and I’ll tell you the truth. It feels odd. Nationality is in your genes. Putting on a coat of another color, especially late in life, is strange. But I am very glad Mexico took me in, especially now that the United States is imploding.

Trump is only slowing that down. He cannot stop it.

Many Gringos move down here, stay for years, and never become citizens. They just renew temporary visas interminably or get a permanent resident visa, which is almost like being a citizen, but you cannot vote.

I vote in elections on both sides of the Rio Bravo.

I like being a two-nation man.

* * * *

* Coincidentally, it was also January 2005 when I started the blog.

The American-Mexican

INTERESTINGLY, TO ME at least, I have now spent more than a third of my adult life living in Mexico, and since I’ve additionally been a Mexican citizen for most of that time, since 2005, I can refer to myself as an American-Mexican.

Just as accurately, I could call myself a Mexican-American, but that implies that I’m a Latino citizen of the United States. Many Mexican-Americans hold only one citizenship, the one above the border where they were born.

They are Gringos in brownface, often with attitude.

I, on the other hand, am the real deal.

usa-mexico-flagsWell, maybe not because I feel about as Mexican as I feel French or Chinese, which is to say not even a little bit. This will never change due to two things. One, assimilation is very difficult. Two, I’m not an assimilating kind of fellow.

But it’s been an interesting ride, so to speak, and I cannot visualize it ever changing, that I would move back above the border. I have so few ties up there. No driver’s license, no bank account, no address, few relatives, pretty much nothing.

(I suspect the lack of a U.S. bank account means I will not get that cash handout the Blond Bomber is gifting you people. If someone wants to pass by 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue to pick up my share, that would be sweet. Then send it via PayPal.)

Just because I do not assimilate does not mean I cannot learn. I understand fairly well how Mexicans think as a whole. I didn’t when I arrived. Cultures are very different, and few are as different as the Gringo mindset and the Mexican mindset.

When I married into a Mexican family 18 years ago, a door opened very abruptly. While I often got the Octavio Paz (See right-hand column) response before I was a relative, I instantly got the honest response after the marriage. It was like black & white.

Even today, I marvel when I hear one of the kin say something to someone outside the family and then turn right around and say the polar opposite to another relative, me included. It’s like living in two realities.

No, really, if you can stop by the White House for my money, take 10% for your time.