The Take Away
My friend and I were talking yesterday, reminiscing about the state of the world, immediately following 9/11.
Everyone was shell shocked, which disarmed their defenses.
People were kind. They went out of their way to help, they got involved.
Even the French. If you can believe it.
I can say that. I’m married to a Frenchman.
Actually he’s half French, half American.
He has the arrogance and love of food of a Francophile, the other half, Yankee Ingenuity and some Huckleberry Finn “Aww shucks.”
We were given ninety days to use our honeymoon tickets, whose dates fell inside those post September 11th “no air travel” dates.
Wasn’t that nice of them?
It was Air France, so yes, it was EXTREMELY nice of them.
Just under a month later we jetted off to Paris to visit his family.
Italy would have to wait.
“Air travel is safer than it’s ever been” he kept reassuring me, “they’re not going to use planes again, not with everyone watching.”
I suppose he was right, but there weren’t enough drugs in the world to get me through the airport, with the new security and National Guard presence, and then allow me to spend eleven hours in high altitude anxiety, without a puke or five.
Once we landed, I noticed it right away. The energy was palpably different.
There wasn’t any fear in Europe. No recent trauma.
No low grade anxiety that we, in the US, had been marinating in for a month.
I felt lighter immediately.
I felt I could smile and laugh again – except it was Paris and that’s forbidden.
Then an anomaly occurred.
Once a person heard me speak English, they would ask: American? I’d nod, and they would touch my shoulder or take my hand, “So sorry” they would attempt in their best American accent.
Are you kidding me?
In bistros, they would meet my eyes when they heard me speak, and give me a very soulful, extremely sympathetic, little grin. A sort of Mona Lisa smile of compassion. With a tilt of the head.
That’s a HUGE outpouring of emotion for them. I was very, very touched.
The take away for me on that trip and in the weeks and months that followed the tragedy of 911 was this: the world can feel like such a small place. Like a little community, where we all feel each other’s pain.
It was the first time in my life I’d ever noticed that.
The country that holds most Americans in low regard, (I know, BROAD generalization, but…) touched my heart and shared my grief.
Instead of cringing when they heard me speak, which I’ve experienced more times than I can count, my American-ness drew them to me like a magnet, so they could extend their sympathies.
We were all just citizens of the world…for awhile.
I miss that.
Sending Saturday Love,