Recently, I wrote, in an Instagram post, about New York City being the iconic epicenter of the proverbial American Dream. No more than two days later, I was sitting in a cafe in Florence, Italy talking to a woman named Jane. Jane spent her formative years studying in England; her father was Greek and Hungarian and her mother 100% Italian. The day I met Jane, she was serving as an Italian translator for my husband, Joshua's, business meetings in Firenze.
Jane sat down and immediately began to ask us about our European travel plans. Soon, we found ourselves discussing gun control, the Bruxelles lockdown, ISIS, and a 5,000 square foot home she toured in Los Colinas, TX. (Colina, in Italian, means mountains. She found this humorous considering her trip to Dallas was quite flat in comparison to her hillside villa home in Florence!)
Upon her visit to Dallas the month prior, she explained her distaste for New York City. She didn't see the American Dream there. Instead, she saw it alive in Dallas, Texas. Of all places? Dallas? Really!? We didn't have to question her as to why. That's what I love about Jane. She tells you what she thinks no matter what!
To Jane, Dallas showed her what the American Dream looked like in the Katy Trail (a running trail through the heart of Uptown, a '$30k millionaire' mecca) and .... in dog parks. You know, the parks made just for dogs. These are rare in Italy; we did see one in Milan but obviously not frequent throughout the hills of Tuscany.
I was befuddled. And yet, also found myself not at all surprised. Sitting in cafe number two, of the day, I looked around at this beautiful city and it's people and I began to see what she meant. The European lifestyle is certainly different than that of America. It's slower paced in the hills of Tuscany and in so many ways, stuck in time (in a romantic sense of course). But, why her aversion to my beloved New York City?
A week later, I returned to New York City to find it bustling (more so than usual) with Christmas cheer. Thanksgiving has passed since my last visit and the calendar has turned to December. Lights were hung, storefronts were decorated, the Rockefeller tree had been erected in all of it's glory and Salvation Army workers were ringing their bells to the tune of Christmas carols at every street corner. This city is ALIVE!
How can someone NOT see the American dream here?
In the time that has passed since my first encounter with Jane, I've experience three more European cities and I've come to this conclusion: Jane was wrong - and so was I.
The American dream can't be seen. Sure, you can imagine what it looks like, feels like, tastes like. But in reality, the American dream is something to be created. It's an experience unique to each American.
We may not have roads paved in cobblestones, century old Cathedrals, Palaces adorned in golden monuments but what we have is far more intriguing. We have the future! We have the ability to shape who we will be tomorrow, what we will do today, and how the next generation of Americans will fulfill their American dreams.