Just a few days ago, I got the best Christmas present I could have imagined (besides a massive book deal). The documents confirming my Lithuanian citizenship arrived in my mailbox. The next step is to head down to the consulate to arrange for a passport. I’m officially a dual citizen.
This has been almost a three year process. It took longer than it should have, perhaps, because of contradictory and otherwise problematic documents, but I don’t want to get into that. This is a watershed experience in my life. It changes so much so quickly that I can hardly think about it.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding dual-citizenship in Lithuania because it’s forbidden for most Lithuanians. I’ll have more to say about this in the future, but for now I want to say that, yes, dual citizenship should be available either for everyone or no one. I see the idea behind the laws, at least in theory: dual citizenship should be allowed to those who have a high chance of coming back to live in Lithuania but illegal for those who are most likely to leave the country and never come back. In a globalized economy, it’s short-sighted, and the “us and them” mentality behind it might be a symptom of the reasons people choose to leave Lithuania in the first place.
That said, I can tell you how I feel. Identity is a construct, I agree, and given that I have always looked at myself as a global citizen, I should not have felt, you’d think, any particular identity shift following the arrival of a document. However, I feel completely different. It’s one thing to feel one’s a global citizen philosophically but completely different to have documents that allow you to apply for work in about a third of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s also a validation of sorts: “Yes,” a voice says, “There’s a difference between theory and practice.”
So, anyway, hello, world. I have a new way of joining the global community, the one we feel so strongly when we do something as simple as dial in to CNN-World in a hotel in Poland. I used to feel stuck, trapped. Now I feel the intimidating awe that comes when one faces enormous possibility.
Here’s a picture of me waiting for a flight in the Vilnius airport in the summer of 2014.