I cannot remember when I began to dream of going to France, or rather, specifically, going to Paris, France, but it was a long long long time ago, probably back in my childhood, even, when I was reading my first Encyclopedia, yes, at eight and nine, and reinforced later, when I learned that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and even John Adams had all had their days and nights in Paris, France, at the great turning of the worlds, when America was born from colonies into the United States, and the French helped us stand up against the British, and then, desperately, when France suffered into its own glorious, bloody, revolution, and then, oh my God, Napoleon, and then, thanks be to God, the impressionists (and their lovely daddy, Edouard Manet).
“Us” – what a slippery word that is. I was not even alive back then. I don’t even know who “we” are – except that yes I do, I was a properly educated American child, a baby boomer par excellence, I knew exactly who “we” were as I knelt down under my desk every three weeks for nuclear attack drill and kissed my ass goodbye, yes, I knew exactly who we were, except that nowadays there were no more French and British struggling against each other with Napoleonic ego power complexes, no, there was only Russia with her bomber planes and missile rockets flying over the pole to blast the bloody hell out of all us poor little rich kids who only wanted another ice cream cone before Friday, please, yes, and then… well, you get the picture.
So it was quite a relief to learn, a few years later, that life was not about whether the Soviets would bomb the shit out of me in California, no, they would have their puppet North Vietnamese do it to me sucking up mud in Hue or Da Nang, but…
I digress, because it was a relief to learn that instead of that horror, what really mattered was this enigma, recently re-pointed out to me, again, many years later, by one of my community vloggers:
If I can learn to look at this, and think about it, instead of hiding under my school desk every time the air raid siren goes off, then…