Nationality

         

My ten week’s exploratory expedition across the United States of America is coming to an end. In search of the roots of my father I am deeply impressed with this great country, its citizens and its characteristic atmosphere. One more week to go. However, I seriously consider to stay here. So about time to make an assessment.  I involve my friend and his girlfriend in my contemplations, knowing in advance that they are on the side of “Do come to the United States”. I know them for many years and I value their judgement and opinion. He is an exponent of a successful emigration and they both live a prosperous life in the USA.

“Suppose I stay here”, I kick off, “then a temporary residence permit is of no use to me. So I need to be an American again.” “No problem, and it will only take you two weeks”, says my friend definitely: “all you have to do is declare, that they deprived you from your nationality when you were under-age. Every judge in this country will take care of it and you will be an American in no time.” He looks at me triumphantly. But I have not passed this curve yet: “How about you?” I ask my friend, “meanwhile you are living here for years.” “Since 1957”, he admits, “just over twenty years!” My next question is obvious: “Why are you still a Dutchman?” “When I got here, they gave me a residence permit right away. Almost no questions asked! But you are right, it is not that easy nowadays. No, I am still very proud to be a Dutchman. I love to live and work here, but I still don’t feel an American. When I hear the Wilhelmus[1]…” That is not my piece of cake.  It is a beggar’s song after all and I am not “of German blood” nor did I ever “honour the King of Spain”[2]. The American “In God we trust” I find at least just as doubtful.

“You will fit in perfectly here”, his girlfriend brings forward, “Your English is very good and they already offered you a job!” That is true. When I visited a Regional Bank in Fort Wayne to withdraw money, I told the cashier, that we  were actually intercontinental colleagues, they gave me a take round and explanation about banking in the USA. I admit, that the manager and I had a “click” right away and she could be my first female manager: “Here is my card. Give me a call and you got yourself a job!” I argue: “I got a good job at a bank in the Netherlands now, too. And I am in the process of buying an apartment in the town centre.  “Ha!”, says the girlfriend, “I have an entire house. Downtown too. Not far from that bank. It is rented out now, but I am fed up with the tenants, so when their contract expires next year, you can move in right away! Neighbourly price!” “And”, she adds with a significant smile, “You most likely will not be living there alone for   long.” “Well”, is all I bring up.

With the latter she means Cindy B., a beautiful and probably sweet girl, whom I met (twice) in The Picker[3]. Here I got another invitation: “I live with my grandparents. But they are out of town for a week. Do drop by for a few days and we will see what happens…” She kissed me on my cheek.

“Did I convince you?” says my hostess, “your counterarguments are evidently weaker, are not they?” “No, certainly not!” I say, “I am in love in the Netherlands too!”

My friend thinks that it is time to take a definite position now: “When you consider pros and cons now, what will you decide?” “I just need a nudge in the right direction,” I said, answering his question, “it is fifty-fifty now!”

When going out for dinner a few minutes later -I am going to drive-the sticker just below the left tail light of my friend’s car I had never noticed before, made me take the final decision I, after all, never regretted:

 

Event from 1978, written in 2017.

[1] Name of the Dutch National Anthem.

[2] You have to sing that you are indeed.

[3] The Picker Nightclub. It was THE place to be.

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