Tamas and I made the trip up to Tampa for his naturalization oath ceremony. He pledged his allegiance to this awesome country while getting to hold onto his Hungarian citizenship. Best of both worlds.
There were a lot of little things that we noticed as we participated in this ceremony, but the most notable, to me at least, was the actual feeling that I had during the whole thing. A friend of mine warned me beforehand that there would be a powerful sentiment in the room when you are in the ceremony, and I knew I’d probably get emotional, but I never really expected it to hit me so hard.
Sure, there were the typical feelings of relief that you’d expect from having worked at something so hard, for so long. Having gone through all the tribulations we did, which were more than most, and finally making it through to the final step. Of course there was a deep pride for my husband, knowing that this has been a lifelong dream for him. And for me, actually being the one to provide the gift myself, through my own citizenship. Sure, that was all really powerful stuff.
But it was so much more than just that. Than just our personal journey.
What I didn’t expect to feel was to be completely and overwhelmingly humbled by this final step. Or the energy surrounding this final step, rather. Humbled by the others in the room that have undergone their own stories and struggles to be in that very room today. The sheer history of the process, having taken place for a great many years for so many people in this country. For so many reasons, for freedom, for opportunity. As I write this, it all feels so trite. But there was something that Tamas and I eagerly agreed on when we reflected upon what we’d just gone through. It was that we both felt so extremely privileged to get to sit in that room and participate in a piece of each other’s history. And in a piece of the history of our country and the history of countless others before us.
Privileged, honored and humbled.
There were 80 people in the room that became naturalized and they were from 39 different countries. That’s a whole lot of history and culture and family tradition that was all gathered to take one final step towards a better life, towards peace, towards betterment. You’d look around and be able to tell based on their skin color or the sounds of the words coming out of their mouths where they were from, and you’d start to piece together these fictional stories about them, and what they must have gone through to get to that room. Just knowing what Tamas and I had to go through and how long it took, created this sense of overwhelming relief not for us, even, but for the others in the room. Knowing that this chapter of their lives was coming to an end in a peaceful, celebratory way.
And that hit me so hard, I could barely keep it together.
I’m not a patriotic-type person, but this was really something else. I feel a bit sad that this is such an exclusive ceremony. That more people don’t get to experience the beauty of this achievement, too. Because as a friend recently said, “we appreciate the difficult things more” and I completely agree. I have always taken my citizenship for granted, because it was. And to see it for a moment from the other perspective, from the side of those who literally had to work for it…well, that was a beautiful thing.
Thanks for letting me ramble at you for a moment.
But one last thing — what Watering Mouth post would be complete without some talk about food? So just for some eye candy, check out what we had directly after the ceremony at Bahama Breeze restaurant in Tampa. That’s right, beef empanadas! I mean, it sorta makes sense, right? That an Eastern European would become an American and then go eat some Latin food. No? Okay, well, I thought it made sense, in a this-makes-no-sense kind of way.