Looking for America

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Queen-of-the-RoadNothing lasts forever. Seasons come and seasons go, and this year’s political campaigns are no different. Our favorite candidate will either start making history in November, or will be neatly tucked away with all of the other “ugly sweaters” we can’t remember. Our resilient brains will neatly place them on the top shelf to make way for new and lovelier moments.

If you are lucky, you already understand this on a deep level. As I write this, I’ve just celebrated another Mother’s Day, a sweet visit from my granddaughters and I am anxiously awaiting my daughter Sarah’s wedding to her high school sweetheart in September. Nothing I see in the media is going to change me or my focus. And it won’t likely change my neighbor either. Time to relax, turn it all off and focus my energy on the things and people that really matter.

When I think of summer, my mind always drifts to planes, trains and automobiles. Some of my favorite memories involve either riding or driving long hours with the windows down and the smell of new towns readjusting my consciousness. If I close my eyes, I can see Sarah hanging out the window of the train from Cannes to Milan. Like the pink flowers cascading from the window boxes, she did not yet know her own beauty.

We stopped in Monte Carlo before the shops and the casino were open, hopped another train to Florence and landed at our VRBO one floor above the gritty and tourist-filled market next to the Duomo (perfect for people watching). Except the noise from the street was so loud, I had a hard time sleeping. Vendors yelled, tourist’s bartered and the bars stayed open late into the night. But this beautiful chaos is not what I remember about Italy. No matter how hard I try, all memories of that trip dissolve to Sarah’s face, again, leaning out of our long Italian window.

Sure, we struggled with the conversion rates, got lost (streets in Italy are named after ancestors and can change from one block to the next) and argued about how to get where we were going. Michael Jackson died that summer, but other than the occasional street performer doing his best “Billy Jean” impersonation, we were not aware of America.

Was there an election going on? I can’t remember. Who was president that year? I may have to look it up. Even when I try to recall such details, my mind reroutes me to her memory. You see, political parties hold no space in my travel treasure chest. And come November, they won’t in yours either. Whatever you do this summer, make sure it involves traveling away from your TV or the internet. I can’t promise you the perfect trip, but I do know this: leaving “America” is sometimes the best way to find her.


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