(Postings will only be on Monday and Thursday this week and the next. Traveling.)
I also thought about dual citizenship and how birth citizenship and identity are intertwined because of a conversation with Jennifer, a patron at DSK. I have met Jennifer only once. I would have noticed her because she was sitting next to me, but also because she was dressed differently from others in the bar, wearing a white dress and looking as if she had just come from the kind of work where it is important to be wearing something like a stylish white dress. She was eating a meatball dish, having a beer, and studying her phone. The meatballs were a recent addition to the menu. I had never had them and asked how they were. She replied, “Pretty good.” She volunteered that she had ordered them because she had never had them even though she had had most of the other items on the menu. She had been in the bar several times before, she continued, visiting a friend in the neighborhood. That friend had moved, and she had now taken over the friend’s apartment.
She asked how long I had lived have nearby. I replied, “Longer than you have been alive.” She laughed and said that she doubted that and asked me to guess her age. Perhaps our time is more enlightened than previously, but it is still a dangerous game for a man to guess a woman’s age. Even so, without thinking, I said 37. She said that was pretty good; she was 41.
I must not have offended her with my guess, for we started chatting. She told me that her mother is Korean. Her father’s origins were only described as “Californian.” Her parents met in Seoul. Jennifer said that her father had been in the military and after leaving the service, he had worked for the government, which he continued to do. She was not more specific about what that “government” work was, and the conversation turned to other things.
I said that I would not ask what her father thought of Trump. She indicated that even though her father was a Republican, he was not happy with the president. I said that it was unfortunate how much we denigrated government workers and that many of them, rightly so, considered themselves public servants. She nodded in agreement.
She told me that because of her father’s work, she had lived in many places. She had gone to college in northern Washington. I tried unsuccessfully to guess the school, and she told me “Olympia.” She might have been a bit defensive about that because she immediately mentioned that it had in-state tuition.
She had come to New York after college and started work as a receptionist for a music company and had worked herself up to a more meaningful position. For the last six years she had worked as a production manager for, as she described it, “a documentary company.” I asked if I would know anything her company had done, and she said it had made the recent documentary on O.J. Simpson. I replied that I knew about it but had not watched it because I avoided everything about him. Then I realized that this was not some documentary maker unknown to me. She worked for the documentary branch of ESPN that produced “30 for 30.” On occasion I watch some of these documentaries, and I told her how much I admired the ones I had seen because they weren’t the usual sports stories. I liked that they often used athletes to explore broader societal issues. I learned that the title “30 for 30” came about because on the thirtieth anniversary of ESPN, thirty filmmakers had been hired to make documentaries, and the show continued beyond those initial ones.
Her father’s job was bringing her parents back to Korea. I asked what this would be like for her mother, who, although born there, had not lived in Korea for many years. Jennifer said that her mother, who is 75, was more than happy to go back to Seoul. After moving to the United States, she had become an American citizen, but in order to do so, she had to give up her Korean citizenship. Relinquishing her birth citizenship, as it was for my Chinese friends, had been hard. She felt that she had had to deny an important part of her. Korea, however, does have a form of dual citizenship, and it is easier to obtain for a once-Korean citizen who is over 70 and living in Korea. Her mother now planned to get her Korean citizenship back. She was excited about returning to Korea because of the prospect of reclaiming part of herself.
(Concluded November 12)
RELATED POST: https://ameliasdad.blog/?s=DSK