Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Fellow Citizens

My hairdresser and I are pretty good friends, even though we have never met outside of the salon in all the years of our relationship. We are about the same age and we like many of the same things. We enjoy our monthly hour together when we catch up on each others' lives.

She helped me to conquer my fears when I moved to California 11 years ago, newly divorced, middle-aged and responsible for myself for the first time in my life. I helped to support her through a serious illness several years ago (she's fine, now!). We've shared stories, admired pictures of each other's grandchildren, taught each other snippets of languages, she helping me with Spanish, I giving her a few words of Japanese with which to greet her son's wife's family.

She is an American now. Having just passed her test for citizenship with 100% correct answers, she is one of us. An immigrant from Chile many years ago, she and her husband, both Chileans, met here and married, and produced two gorgeous sons whom they raised to be marvelous men and devoted husbands and fathers. They have both worked hard to achieve the American dream, and have lived as a strong example of all the best virtues of our society.

The decision to become American citizens, even though they have lived here for most of their lives, was not a easy one - one does not give up one's native land easily - but they decided to throw in their lot with us and we are a richer, better, brighter, more cultured and more delightful country for having added these two wonderful citizens.

It happened at a good time for me, too. Just when I was despairing of the direction our country is currently taking and watching the ridiculous media circus that choosing a new administration has become, I am reminded that things can't be all bad when America can still attract these terrific people.

Welcome to America, M and H. We are graced by having you as our fellow citizens.

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