Ah. Le bonheur. There is an interesting dynamic between New York and Paris. People in both cities concur that the other city is the finer than their own. At least, generally, this is the reaction I get. In Paris, when I told people we had moved from New York, they would reply, "New York ! Vous avez eu de la chance ! Pourquoi vous êtes partis?" (New York! You were lucky! Why would you ever leave). And now that we are back in New York, I get: "You lived in Paris for three years! My dream is to live in Paris." The yearning on both sides is proportional. People love these cities.
It is precisely for that reason that I am back for a week. So that I (we) can be in a perpetual state of unrestrained in-between. I am back to secure my hard-earned carte de séjour, without which my path to citizenship would be stymied. In like manner, Xavier is here to hand in his French passport to the American consulate, who will award him a green card and then return his passport (we are hoping) with the right to be an American one day.
This is all dandy, barring the bureaucracy involved. On both ends. The French are renowned for it - n'est-ce pas my American friends in Paris? As it turns out, the American side is not necessarily less baffling.
Here, for your entertainment, Xavier explains the situation as we wait for my interview for the carte de séjour. Mainly, it involves a whole lot of waiting.
"Here we are waiting for the carte de séjour. Our appointment was at 11:30; it is now 12:20, nothing abnormal there. But now the thing is that we are going to have to wait until the lunch hour is over; they've all left. There are perhaps one or two of the minions left - probably interns, who have the privilege of staying around while everyone else eats. Lucky us. I think your camera is a bit crooked." (Remember, the French lunch hour is a full 60-90 minutes. We sat there at least that long).