At one point, in 2010, the tagline of this site was Casbah Life, Moroccan Wife, Swiss Army Knife….and that was what it was. I was living deep in the Casbah of Sefrou with no tools but a Swiss Army Knife and struggling to get the necessary paperwork and approval to make Hanane, my Moroccan fiance, into my wife. Then, of course, we managed to jump through the necessary bureaucratic and cultural hoops and found ourselves living in the Casbah as we discovered what we had gotten ourselves into. Cultural forces ended our stay in the Casbah after only a few months (it was where the lowest caste Moroccans tended to live and her family threatened to disown us if we stayed there). We moved on to Fez, Istanbul, Manisa, back to a more respectable (but less enjoyable) apartment in Sefrou, and finally jumped through enough hoops to bring ourselves and our daughter to the USA in 2013. Family drama and economic shock drove us to one of the most impoverished towns on the Oregon Coast, really, sort of the West Coast USA equivalent of the Casbah – where we put our heads down, jumped through even more bureaucratic and cultural hoops – and without the help of anyone else, set about building an American life. As of last Tuesday – I no longer have a Moroccan wife – I have a Moroccan-American wife – after seven years of paperwork and hoop jumping – I find myself married to a brand new American citizen. We continue to live in our small town Oregon environment and I am earning our livelihood through selling antiques, books, and as of yesterday – a rather huge selection of knives and swords. So, literally, I’ve gone from Casbah life, Moroccan wife, Swiss Army Knife to American Wife, Oregon Life, and Selling a Knife. This is a rather huge change in our lives and opens the door to other changes. The citizenship process was complicated but the ceremony itself was simple and yet profound. The new citizens were escorted to a room while the family waited behind – they took care of the final paperwork there, crossed all the ts and dotted the i’s – and then we, the family were brought in. A video highlighting the diversity of the United States brought some tears and then a video recording of President Obama, welcoming the new citizens to their new country and explaining their new freedoms, rights, and responsibilities. I am so thankful that it was President Obama who gave that message. It is a difficult time for America right now and I suspect that after January 20th – it will be even more confusing. I set out from Hawaii on the journey that led me to Morocco just before Obama was inaugurated and my wife gained citizenship in the last moments of his 8-years in office. There is something profound and beautiful in that. And now, things are going to be completely different. After the video, the new citizens stood and recited an oath to their new country, we all sang the Star Spangled Banner together, and then said the Pledge of Allegiance. Finally, the new citizens were individually recognized and given their certificates of citizenship – and then allowed to take photos and to register to vote. The citizenship ceremony was in Portland, Oregon. I will write more about our Thanksgiving visit there in my next post.