Tag Archives: dual citizenship

Not American Anymore?

On more than one occasion now I’ve been told I’m not American anymore. Or I’ve been told I’m an Aussie. While I’ll take the latter, I will not take the former. I had to conduct some personal research as to why I felt this way. Why, after each instance of someone attempting to strip away a piece of my evolving identity, I felt so defensive and ready to rumble like a back alley cat over the last scrap of chicken. I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons.

I love my country. Sure, the US is a functionally dysfunctional shit show at times. But she’s also full of diversity and ingenuity. Sprawling cities and small towns, both of which are filled with incredible people. A plethora of nice neighbors, and acquaintances you love to hate. A smorgasbord of political ideas, religious differences, and people either seeking or running from enlightenment. There is a Miranda Lambert song I love, “All Kinds of Kinds”, and not just because Stoney Larue also sings on the track. My interpretation of the song is that this circus of a world wouldn’t go ’round if we didn’t have all kinds of kinds. People who work their whole life in the same grocery store, or people like me who go out into the world, take a leap of faith and hope it all doesn’t go pear-shaped. I didn’t leave the US because I didn’t like it there anymore, or I was tired of the glorious Colorado sunshine. I left because it was the best decision for my daughter. She could have the best life her father and I could offer her at the present time in Australia. In all of my One Hot Mess glory, I found myself making the hardest decision I’ve come across in my short 28 years, and while I put on a brave face, it was scarier than watching Freddy Kruger at age 7. Selling just about everything I owned and jumping on a plane at 5 months pregnant with two suitcases and saying goodbye to my family seems almost unreal to me now. Thankfully, I have been welcomed into this beautiful country by an incredible family and some amazing friends. Now, let’s get back on track and I’ll tell you about my second reason.

I used to know who I was. Then, the sweetest, screaming, squishiest, little miracle known as Charlie graced us with her presence. Anyone who has become a parent, and especially the moms know, your identity changes when that time and date is forever stamped in your memory. I say especially the moms because not only do people start referring to you as Mommy, (who me?), your clothes don’t fit anymore, and you don’t recognize that puffy faced woman with the bags under her eyes in the mirror. Not to fear, you do begin to look like yourself again but on the inside you’re totally different. Scary! There are risks I won’t take anymore that I wouldn’t have thought twice about in the past. For example, eating cookie batter is a no-no. Not only because I’m not about to have time to make cookies, but I’m not eating raw egg. Who will watch the baby and take care of me if I am calling dinosaurs? Last time I checked I was only married to one man and there’s no nanny! Ok, bad example but you get the gist. I also haven’t done some of the things that used to be staple activities in my life in quite a while. Part of leaving the US was leaving behind the cold steel of my firearms, and the cozy leather of my saddles. Luckily, I still have my yoga pants and mat. Phew! I will ride again, and soon, but even then I will have to take up a different style of riding. Change, a necessary evil.

My last reason is this: I do what I want, you’re not the boss of me, and as long as my passport is issued by the good ol’ US of A, and I have to file taxes, I’m an American! One day, hopefully, I will carry dual citizenship. It’s a long and expensive journey but worthwhile. Just as one day, Lucas will become a dual citizen. When I moved out of my parent’s home at the age of 18, y’all didn’t quit calling me a Huffaker (maiden name, have fun trying to pronounce it if you’re new here). I posed the question of renouncing citizenship to a group of Americans living in Oz and the large majority of them said they would never give it up. I deduced from their reasons this, being an American is something we are born with, we become, and we (hopefully) take pride in. Now if we could just get the government to do that… Oh wait, that’s a whole other topic. I see myself as a representative of our great nation. When I meet new people, the first thing they ask me is where I’m from. Just as your mother isn’t perfect, you still love her, and that’s how I feel about my country.

I have no doubt that my little family will live in the US in the future and when we do, I will have this rich experience under my belt. Hopefully, that will only stand as something even greater I can offer my homeland having lived abroad. It’s a great big world out there, and it’s a short life.

xxOHM

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One Hot Mess and a Koala

Nothing makes me want to live off the grid more than dealing with government agencies. The only problem with off the grid living is the lack of niceties and little comforts I’ve grown accustomed to. I mean, where would I get the vanilla almond butter I’m addicted to or a pedicure? First world problems I tell ya.

I’m currently in the process of applying for Permanent Residency in Australia and holy mackerel is it a long and loaded process! As an American a little part of me is an entitled, spoiled, white girl who thinks I should just be able to fill in a form, tell them I’m not a baddie (Aussie speak for bad guy), and go on my way. But no. I have to trudge through all the bureaucracy and mountains of paperwork like the rest of the population and wait my turn. (Cue foot stomping). Let me share with you a tiny bit of what is required. Fingerprints, sent to the FBI (12-16 week turn around time), Australian National Police Check, Blood Tests, Chest X-rays, family history (including step and half siblings and their marital status), certified copies of everything from my passport to my first library card (ok the library card part is a lie), four new passport style photos, three different forms all five plus pages in length, a personal story as to how I came to be in Australia and married to that handsome guy with the cute accent, and a little more than $4k. Just for starters. Thank goodness for Google and the really nice lady at Immigration who answered my questions! I’m hoping the process for Lucas’ green card is less painful, but I’m not betting on it.

During all of this I have to keep reminding myself it’s all worth it. Australia is a pretty great place to live and I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to experience even more of what this great country has to offer. My little family packed our bags, left our coats in Canberra and headed for warmer, sunnier weather at the Gold Coast. It was exactly the little break we needed, and bonus! We were able to spend quite a bit of quality time with some old friends of Lucas who I now get to call my new friends. The feminine half of our friendly duo is also an American and I wish she lived closer! It was so refreshing to spend some time with someone who knows what it’s like to challenge yourself with a move to a new country. Dare I say, it made me feel human again! Little victories.

20130527-110454.jpg Lauren and me, a couple of American girls in Oz.

Since moving to Australia I’ve been hearing about all these fabulous things there are to do and aside from visiting some of the most pristine beaches on the planet, I’d yet to experience anything truly Australian until we visited the Gold Coast. While it is yet another gorgeous beach, a little bird told me that I could cuddle a Koala just twenty minutes up the road. Stop. The. Press. A lifelong dream of mine was going to come true! We toured the Currummbin Wildlife Park and paid $30 to have our photo taken while cuddling the cutest of wild animals known to man. I was so stinking nervous and heart-poundingly excited to hold the little guy I was afraid he would feel my nerves and claw me to death with the sharpest, longest claws I’ve ever seen on a 1 and a half year old. All went well however, and he was as snuggle-riffic as anything called a bear could be.

20130527-110858.jpg I can’t remember his name but he was so soft!

Charlie also wanted to get in on the Koala cuddling and in true Australian hospitality, the handlers let her have a pat as well.

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After feeding Kangaroos, cuddling Koalas, seeing Dingos, Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, and the largest Crocodile I hope to ever see, I feel a little more experienced here. I can’t wait to take my family and friends on these adventures when they visit us here. Life is happening here and now and I’m busy living it, and loving it!

Stay tuned for the One Hot Mess adventures that I am positive will ensue as I proceed down this Immigration track, dual citizenship is so much easier when you’re born with it. Count your blessings Charlie!

xx OHM

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