I am disappointed that being an American means that I have to take responsibility for the bad and good that is associated with all Americans. I am a bad example of a good representation. I am not the ideal version of anything, which means there are limits to what I can speak about with authority.
“God created war, so that Americans would learn geography.”
― Mark Twain.
I answered that we were Americans. And he pointed out my hesitation. I acknowledged that the actions America takes on the world stage left itself open to judgment. Then he asked where we were from, and Tracy replied California. At this, the man and his wife said, “Ah.”
We talked about the difference between most Americans and California. He said that California was a different country. A nagging statistic that I can recall with ease is that the Golden State has the eighth largest economy in the world. It is in the news often for progressive action that reflects its independence. There is even an initiative to secede California from the United States, and another to break the state into smaller states.
We talked about Europe and then Germany. He compared the aggression of Adolf Hitler and the actions of Donald Trump’s “America First” and “Make America Great Again” policies.
“America did a great thing and I was grateful when they liberated Germany,” he said. “But, since then they do not act with the same commitment.”
I don’t believe I had the right to say something on behalf of America, or even anyone else but myself. But, I did feel like this man deserved my opnion. He had risked vulnerability by speaking to me in English, and it was not his strength. He was not aggressive. His intentions were honest and his questions direct.
“I believe America is more comfortable taking action,” I said, “than it is taking responsibility for its actions. But it is still responsible.”
By now, his wife was restless. Their meal was done, the bill paid, but her husband was still talking. He left us with a final thought. He raised both hands like a referee signaling a touchdown.
“Trump will be elected again.”
I nodded in agreement. It was hard to see any change in the current climate that would prevent a second term.
The woman had enough. She grabbed his arm, smiled, and thanked us before they got up and left.
More food arrived. Then an appetizer of grilled asparagus. Next, were two beautiful bowls of pasta.By the time we finished and walked home, I could barely keep my eyes open. I could not stop thinking about what the man had said. Despite the Watergate investigation, Nixon was reelected. The same was possible for Trump even during an investigation.
The night was beautiful.
I still had a little work to do.
I knew I wanted to call Jabari to see how the meeting I missed had gone.
But I wanted my head to be clear. So I set a timer for 10 minutes.
Then I stretched out on the bed and thought about the difference in time.
I’m sure the timer went off and then that I turned it off, but I just don’t remember.
What I do remember is waking up about 3 1/2 to 4 hours later. I was exhausted and I only awoke because the noise of a mosquito was buzzing near my ears.
I woke up to multiple bites. Big ones.
I got up and made a pot of coffee.
Then a second pot.
Finally, I felt ready to call Jabari and talk about the game.
We walked me through the plot points that he and Fen had worked out and then we plotted a schedule of expected goals and timelines for the next few weeks.
Tracy fell asleep while I was on the call and when I was done. I couldn’t resist the chance to crawl back into bed and sleep again.
I was still full and tired of talking.
It was time to sleep and dream.
When I woke up later, I would still be in Florence, Italy. It would be no more than midday. All the possibility in the world.
But first, I wanted to dream and watch the lights become a steady hum of glow.