From a Shirt to our President

 

Yesterday, as my daughter and I were browsing through the racks of expensive leather cowboy boots and jackets in one of the most beautiful boutiques downtown Santa Fe, a woman, clad in sophisticated southwestern clothes, asked me if I was French.

She was not only the obvious owner of the magnificent shop but also French. I’m sure that like me her accent gives her away anytime she opens her mouth. But, I realized in a jolt, I have not uttered a single word.

In a glance, I took in my outfit. My pants came from Banana Republic; my sandals were made in the USA. I bought my T-shirt at Target and my bracelet in California. I accept to be mistaken for an American in France when I wear this exact same outfit. What gave me in Santa Fe?

“It’s your shirt,” the woman said with a big smile, pointing at my light blue cotton shirt that I wore on top of my T-shirt. “I’m French too,” she added. “And I bought the same in France.”

I had forgotten about my shirt. It’s made in cotton, as light as silk, which is something the French know how to do well. “I bought it in France too,” I admitted.

By then we had switched to speaking in French.

“I like the way you wear it,” the woman went on.

I let my shirt wide open, only because I lost a button and didn’t carry any thread and needle to sew it back. I told her so.

“It’s cute,” she said. “I really liked this shirt as soon as I saw it. It was not a cheap one either.”

I only got mine because it was very affordable. “I bought it during the summer sales,” I said with a proud smile.

Oops, I immediately realized, did I become so American that I can shamelessly admit buying expensive shirts only when they are on sale?

But the woman smiled and said,” I’m sorry for jumping on you about being French. But I thought it was funny to see the exact same shirt on someone else. You could only be French.” I smiled back. “Besides,” she added. “We are in America. We can say anything, right?”
I was reminded of her point when at dinner three middle-aged women, who sat near our table, started talking with us when my son ordered the enchiladas one of them had also ordered and loved. From food, the conversation switched to the weather. The women were from Colorado and complained about the unusual hot weather.

“Well,” the most talkative said. “It’s not like Colorado hasn’t been very unusual in the last weeks.”

“Right,” her friend agreed. “First the wild fires. Then the shooting.”

“Imagine,” the first one said. “Obama came twice!”

I noticed she said Obama and not President Obama or at least Mr. Obama.

“Yeah,” her friend agreed with a sigh. “They only come when something bad happens.”

Then, I thought, horrible things must have happened in San Francisco for our President to be there so often recently.

But I kept my thought to myself, and only said that it would indeed be nice to see our Presidents when good things happen.

I’m American to a certain limit.

Colorado

Très vite après Cheyenne, les paysages plats des grandes plaines donnent naissance aux premiers sommets du Colorado. Le ciel est vaste et d’un bleu pur qui ne se salira qu’aux approches de Denver.
Denver est maintenant l’une des plus grandes métropoles de l’ouest américain et la plus importante en termes de population et économie entre les plaines et le Pacifique. Ses banlieues, dont Aurora sinistrement connue à cause de la tuerie dans un de ces cinémas plus tôt cet été, s’étirent à l’infini avec pour toile de fond les Rockies. Ski et activités sportives abondent aux alentours de Denver et de Boulder en faisant l’une des régions les plus actives du pays.
Sa voisine, Colorado Springs, à moins d’une heure au sud, est l’une des villes les plus conservatives des Etats Unis. Focus on the Family, une organisation à but non lucratif promeut ses valeurs socialement conservatives à travers notamment des publications pour adultes et enfants qui se veulent un puissant rempart aux valeurs plus libérales d’autres états de l’ouest.
Avant d’arriver au Nouveau Mexique par l’interstate 25 sud, le paysage devient de nouveau plus plat malgré l’altitude élevée. Les sommets montagneux sont tour à tour arrondis et abrupts et leur couleur ocre précurseur de l’Arizona.
Nous déjeunons à Trinidad, une toute petite ville à la lisière de Nouveau Mexique. Le café où nous mangeons salades et sandwiches est sur Main Street parmi d’autres cafés, restaurants, magasins d’antiquité, galeries d’art et musées. Comme beaucoup de petites villes américaines, Trinidad n’a pas l’aspect « joli » des petites villes françaises de taille équivalente. Trinidad est en mouvement. Un magasin en remplace un autre. Les panneaux à vendre ou qui annoncent une ouverture prochaine exemplifient l’esprit d’entreprise qui caractérise les américains.
Dans la voiture la radio joue Californie Dreams des Mamas et Papas. La route est encore longue jusqu’au Golden State.
Ce soir Sante Fe et son air rare et sec nous ouvrira les portes du sud ouest américain. 
%d bloggers like this: