Chère France,

Chère CharlieIt’s been a long time. Thirty years since we began this relationship; more than twenty since I decided to call you home. Since I married in Paris, gave birth in Lyon, made friends, built a life, put down roots.

In all these years, I’ve never felt moved to share my feelings about what it is to be French. Until now.

I have often criticized you, and rightly so. It has not always been easy to live here, to decode your culture, understand your language and fully appreciate your history. There have been moments of mutual incomprehension. Sometimes I felt alone. But I never felt judged, nor excluded.

Never once did you ask about my religion or political beliefs. You gave my children an education that has enabled them to go forth in the world as free-thinking, critical spirits. You kept us healthy and safe.

So this is to say merci, dear France. Thank you for your irreverence. For refusing to be kept down. Merci for resisting the thought police, refusing the politically correct. For having the courage to face down fear. For supporting even those you don’t agree with in their right to free speech. Like the beloved cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo. Like me.

#JeSuisCharlie

Mel

P.S. I don’t agree with all of the choices made by editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo. Nor do I consider this humble blog to be comparable to the work of those brilliant satirists. But I do believe in freedom of expression. What about you?